New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day

Follow-on is a lifeline - Watling

Andrew McGlashan in Wellington

March 16, 2013

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

BJ Watling hits through the off side, New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day, March 16, 2013
BJ Watling, who made 60, was bullish about New Zealand's chances © AFP
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The remnants of Cyclone Sandra, set to bring much-needed rain to drought-hit New Zealand, could yet have the decisive impact at the Basin Reserve but the home side are retaining far more positive thoughts than hoping the rain helps them out of a hole which has forced them to follow-on.

Their fight has started well, as they battled through the final session of the third day to reach 77 for 1, and although that is still 134 runs from making England bat again, BJ Watling, who made 60 in the first innings, was bullishly talking about providing a tricky final-day target for Bruce Martin, the left-arm spinner, to bowl at.

"I think they might have thrown us a bit of a lifeline," Watling said. "If we can bat well tomorrow morning and for a couple sessions to get rid of the deficit we can put them under a lot of pressure if we get a bit of a lead and then bowl on day five. There is still another two days to go and it might break up which will bring Bucko [Martin] into the last day.

"We are disappointed with our first innings, we needed 350 at least on that, but if we can rectify that and put them under pressure with 350-400; a lead of 200 on that track could be quite defendable."

Watling's gutsy display, which followed a first-ball duck in Dunedin, continued the positive impression he made in South Africa and earlier on this tour when he played a key role in the New Zealand XI victory against England in Queenstown. However, he was critical of himself for falling to the second new ball after a stand of 42 with Martin had taken his side close to saving the follow-on.

"It was quite disappointing to get out to the new ball. That was a crucial stage where I had to be there at the end. Bucko was going really well so it wasn't the best time to get out so I need to be a bit better at those situations."

In reality, it should be New Zealand's lower order, with the exception of the dogged Martin, who need to look in the mirror. Tim Southee did not suggest any inclination to help out his senior partner when he fell to a well-telegraphed plan and hooked a bouncer to long leg, Neil Wagner flashed at a wide one and Trent Boult ended the innings with an ugly heave. Miracles are not expected from a tail, but neither is surrender.

"It was a bit disappointing to be bowled out at the end," Watling said. "The lads will work on and be better off tomorrow or the next day."

It meant, after confirmation that the weather radar was not looking any more promising, that England enforced the follow-on for the first time in an overseas Test since Durban in 1999 after Andy Caddick had blown away South Africa for 156. The last time they did it and won was against New Zealand, at Christchurch, in 1992. Stuart Broad, who did most of the damage on this occasion with 6 for 51, confirmed it was all with an eye on the forecast.

"With the weather around, it was important to be able to enforce," Broad said. "It's not often enforced, because the bowlers tend to like a bit of a rest, and it's good to get their batsmen back out in the field and build a big lead with scoreboard pressure. But with the radar around, it's really unsure how much cricket will be left in the next two days. That was the only reason behind it."

It now puts England in a similar position to New Zealand last week when their attack racked up a lengthy stint in the field. James Anderson appeared to be labouring by the end of the day and Broad knew it was going to a test of the reserves.

"I think he's okay," Broad said of Anderson. "He's just torn into that wind for 20 overs, and it's taken it out of him a little bit. This wind, howling through, can stiffen the body up quite badly. So it's about keeping mobile."

Unless the forecast changes significantly, it won't only be the wind causing issues over the next two days.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 0:44 GMT)

CricketingStargazer - following on and winning has happened 3 times , you forgot India v Australia in 2001. Australia have been on the losing end all 3 times. It is raining now, and they have been delayed an hour, at least

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

@Cricketing Stargazer it's actually happened three times, winning after following on. I suspect you're overlooking the first case which was in the 19th century. Otherwise I think you're right, much as I would like NZ to pull off something remarkable.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 16, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

It was definitely the right call to enforce the follow on. Saying that New Zealand will win from here is just mind games, straw clutching, or self-deception and may even make England's task easier because they will bat with the idea of setting a target, not of saving the match!! Just two sides in Test history have won after following on on both required freak performances to manage it. England's bowlers are fit and are professionals. They should be able to cope with two days in the field... if they can't, they will struggle in Tests!!

Posted by simon_w on (March 16, 2013, 18:24 GMT)

like the chutzpah from Watling, but it's just bravado. if by some miracle we don't lose any play from the last two days, it just makes the England win more likely and lessens the chance of a draw.

Posted by SDHM on (March 16, 2013, 17:54 GMT)

I don't think England would have enforced the follow-on if they weren't worried about the rain - it's not as if they had an absolutely enormous, match-guaranteeing lead and they wouldn't have wanted to run the bowlers into the ground. But, with the weather that's being predicted, I think it was probably the only thing Cook could do to try & force a result. Might come back to bite him if the rain doesn't materialise, but I think it was the right call.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (March 16, 2013, 16:23 GMT)

It's catch-22 isn't it... a lot of ifs/ands/buts, but at the end of the day either NZ have to do the talking with the bat or England with the ball. When the likes of Broad get their mojo back, I'd prefer to keep him at it and hopefully keep some good form and fortune with him - before he has enough time to go away and think/dream-up useless strategies involving short-pitched bowling. Yes Anderson was feeling tired, but a good night's sleep and some power drinks will do him the world of good. Magic-Monty is bowling well, and the likes of Root and Trott can bowl a few overs to keep the NZ batsmen guessing. If the rain stays away, I am confident England's batsmen can knock off a small target even on a day 5 wearing-out pitch...

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 16, 2013, 13:22 GMT)

yes true thoughts by watling. if nz set england target around 155 then england might get all out on 5th day pitch when cracks will widen up. bruce did lot of damage to english players who are not so good against spin as they might be against pace. for that to happen brandon must score run a ball century with his attractive strokeplay. hope nz pass english total at tea tomorrow.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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