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No one knows for certain the origins of the Demon of Embarrassing Capitulation. Rather, its existence slowly became known after people pieced together evidence drawn from history. Its dastardly work has been identified as far back as 1346, at the battle of Crécy, and as recently as last weekend, at The Oval.
While its exact nature is not known, the effects of its presence are clearly identifiable. The possessed, and all who are in any way affiliated with them, will react to threat in an astonishing manner - they will fold like paper and buckle like a belt.
Some say that the demon is Satan himself and when it is suggested that its work isn't perhaps quite evil enough for that to be the case, these people suggest that maybe he has just lost a bit of devilry in his old age and doesn't really have the energy any more, probably preferring a quiet night in. They may also hypothesise that Satan is simply working part-time and isn't really putting his heart and lack-of-soul into it any more, now that he's approaching pension age.
Whether that's true or not, it's clear that the demon exists in some form or other and that it has, for some time, been trapped within international cricket.
There were rumours of its presence somewhere in English cricket throughout much of the '90s, but priests could not ascertain whether it was inhabiting the body of a selector or jumping from player to player on a match-by-match basis. With so many comings and goings, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on who might be afflicted.
What seems more certain is that the demon had inhabited an Australian cricketer by the start of 2013. What had once been a confident, dominant side, had descended into childish bickering and embarrassing defeats - clear signs of a malevolent spirit in their midst. The demon's movements are so difficult to track that The Collapsing Priesthood, who have studied it for 300 years, rarely agree on its whereabouts. However, following a three-day summit they felt sufficiently confident to make an official announcement: "It's probably in Phillip Hughes."
The one called Phillip Hughes plumbed extraordinary depths of incompetence against India but there is some debate about when it finally exited his corporeal form. Did it leave before his 81 not out against England later that year, or was it merely taking a day off, departing only once he had been dropped from the team after scoring one run in his next three innings?
What is not up for debate is the direction in which it headed next. England's winter performance in Australia was as clear an example of embarrassing capitulation as you are ever likely to see. The team were aware of the demon's presence but were confident that The Flower of Zimbabwe was the mystical cure spoken of in the Collapsing Priesthood's ancient texts. Alas, their readings were inaccurate and consequently, for quite some time, England's leader couldn't buy a run.
Which brings us to this summer, when, for the first time ever, the moment of the demon's transit from one body to another was finally documented. England's leader was on 15 and the one known as Pankaj Singh was bowling from round the wicket.
As the one known as Pankaj Singh ran in, England's leader gritted his teeth, somehow aware that an opportunity was about to arise; a moment of weakness from the demon that might allow him to be free of its curse. As the leather globe was catapulted towards him, England's leader willed the demon out of his soul, into his blood, down through his arms and temporarily into his wooden sword.
A full-blooded strike would stun the beast, but no more. A miss would do nothing and allow it to return from whence it came. What was needed was a faint touch, a glancing blow that would snatch the demon from its temporary willow prison and transport it elsewhere, away from England's leader.
As the leather globe feathered the blade of the wooden sword, the transmission took place. The one known as Pankaj Singh saw it most clearly; saw the danger; saw the demon hurtling towards his beloved knight, Sir Ravindra Jadeja.
It was as if the knight had been struck by lightning. His frazzled hands dropped the leather globe to the earth, but to no avail. The journey was complete and now he was the accursed. The one known as Pankaj Singh could only wail in anguish.
The Demon of Embarrassing Capitulation would have its way with the knight's brethren and would not stop until the team was defeated and the knight himself was being dismissed as "a bits-and-pieces cricketer".
Even code of conduct hearings wouldn't go his way.
Alex Bowden blogs at King CricketFeeds: Alex Bowden
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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