Wednesday, 29 May 2013

To follow on or not to follow on, that is the question

England won the second Investec Test Match against New Zealand at Headingley by 247 runs to clinch the test series 2-0.

Those are the facts, but there seems to be an almighty row about how they got there – are you a follower onner or a bat em out the match onner?

From my Twitter feed (@robgeorge1) it seems many current pros subscribe to the bat the opposition out the game then feed on the demoralised scraps route.

But many journalists and some fans share my opinion – if you have just rolled them over for 174 and a total of 242 for the loss of 20 wickets, it’s probably a good idea to ask them to try again.

I have always believed in the follow on, because if the opposition can’t get close to you and you know some of the batsmen don’t fancy the bowling, stick them in again!

On Sunday, England rolled New Zealand over for 174, seven days after knocking the same line up out for 68. Why wouldn’t you ask them to bat again? Their batsmen had been spooked by Anderson and Broad at Lord’s and by Swann and Finn at Headingley.

Indeed Swann made Headingley look so much like Galle I was expecting to see the historic fort and Murali coming on from the other end!

But Cook batted again and Trott plodded along so slowly that England almost were washed out.............

It wasn’t about overloading the bowlers, it was about stomping home England’s advantage and showing the Australians this team is ruthless and we are winning ahead of the Ashes.

I'm sure Broad, Anderson, Finn and Swann would have preferred the extra day's work in exchange for a day off resting.

Having said that, I understand the position by many of the pros, bat again and build such a lead that the opposition can not only not win but drawing would be a herculean task.

A similar demoralising effect is levied upon the batting team and the extra runs allows a captain to keep the field up and attack the batsmen.

It was quite clear the New Zealand batsmen were still feeling the pressure but for me, on a spinning pitch and against a batting line up horribly out of nick I would have preferred to see England go in for the kill.

The issue of whether to follow on or not has divided the pros, the press and fans, no one is right, no one is wrong, but hey isn't it great we are talking so much about cricket?

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