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Five of the most bizarre first-class scorecards of 2015

The year's wackiest turnarounds and weirdest matches

Mohit Shah
What do you do if you're being criticised for a strategic but controversial captaincy decision? If you're Yorkshire's Andrew Gale, you let your bat do the talking  •  Getty Images

What do you do if you're being criticised for a strategic but controversial captaincy decision? If you're Yorkshire's Andrew Gale, you let your bat do the talking  •  Getty Images

How many declarations will that be?
You don't generally see three declarations in a match. In September, Leicestershire and Essex came up with three in a session, as Essex sought to secure points by forcing a result against their bottom-of-the-table opponents Leicestershire. The match had lost over two days of play to rain, before Leicester declared on 251 for 7 on the final morning. Essex stirred the pot, declaring just five overs into their first innings, and Leicester showed they were up for the challenge: they batted just 14 overs more, asking the desperate-for-points Essex to score 307 to win from a minimum of 65 overs. Essex proved up to the task too, knocking off the target with five wickets and a handful of overs to spare. The key partnership was that of 157 for the third wicket between Nick Browne and Ravi Bopara, compiled off just 29.5 overs.
A declaration before lunch
Leeward Islands were not just wanting to have an early lunch when they declared their innings closed at 24 for 7 before the interval on the first morning against Windward Islands in November; they clearly thought they had better get their bowlers bowling as soon as possible instead of having them scratch around with the bat on a pitch that showed signs of rapidly deteriorating. It did not quite work, though, as they managed to get rid of only half the Windwards side by stumps. Windwards went on to make 140, enough to set up an eight-wicket win - in under two days. According to data available to ESPNcricinfo, it was the fourth-shortest completed game of first-class cricket in the West Indies (qualification: a minimum of three innings played). Ironically, Leewards' Nkrumah Bonner - who had made an 18-ball duck in the first innings - registered the highest score in the match with 64 in their second innings.
Forfeiting, and losing
At the same time as the Leicester-Essex tussle, similar mind games were on at the Rose Bowl. "I didn't have to do a great deal of negotiating because I held all the cards. I did put my poker glasses on though," said Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, after Hampshire forfeited their second innings in search of victory - in a bid to avoid relegation from Divison One of the County Championship. Coming into the final day of the match, thanks to the weather, Yorkshire were still in their first innings, 303 behind Hampshire. They declared, and Hampshire promptly did the same without facing a ball in their second innings; Yorkshire's Gale had - rather controversially, in some people's books - agreed to a run-chase before the start of play with opposite number James Vince. And so Yorkshire needed 304, off a maximum of 96 overs. On cue, Gale led from the front, snuffing out the discontent at his forfeiture, taking Yorkshire to a five-wicket win in 91.2 overs with a knock of 125.
Fifty-one reasons to cheer
What is the second-lowest total in the Ranji Trophy to win a match? Fifty-one. Rajasthan might well have been pleased when they bowled out Odisha for 151, but then they were bundled out 100 short of equalling that. Four of Rajasthan's batsmen scored ducks, with 12 being the top score. Odisha used only two bowlers through the innings of 27.2 overs. But then their batsmen failed a second time: they were bowled out for 129 in the second innings, meaning Rajasthan were left chasing 230. More wickets tumbled, but a series of middle-order cameos was just about enough to get Rajasthan home, with two wickets in hand.
When 31 proved enough
When a team is 31 all out, surely it's all over for them, right? Perhaps not. Galle Cricket Club were shot out for 31 in 15.1 overs in a match to qualify for Sri Lanka's first-class competition, the Premier League Tournament. No batsman managed more than 7 the first time round, but they fought back in the second innings to score 295 after bowling their opponents out for 215. There were more good things to come from their bowlers, who carried them to a five-run win, shooting out their opponents Sri Lanka Air Force Sports Club for 107 in a chase of 112. Charith Asalanka was the star all round (yes, he got that top score of 7 in the first innings, followed by 114, and then 4 for 34 with his offspin in the chase).
Any other candidates that should make this list? Let us know at