Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day

To follow-on or not?

ESPNcricinfo present the plays of the day from the third day at Headingley

David Hopps at Headingley

May 26, 2013

Comments: 4 | Text size: A | A

Nick Compton walks back after a laborious 7 off 45 balls, England v New Zealand, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day, May 26, 2013
Nick Compton could not find any fluency as he collected another low score for the series © Getty Images

Decision of the day

England's decision not to enforce the follow-on brought much debate. They had a 180-run lead when they dismissed New Zealand for 174 (the follow-on figure was 150 because the first day was washed out), and until some last-wicket slogging brought 52 from five overs, they had taken nine wickets for 70 runs in 26 overs. Even after Neil Wagner and Trent Boult's merry-making, they had still only been in the field for 43.4 overs.

So why did they not follow-on especially with the risk of rain on the final day? The temptation is to suggest that England's management had an eye on the Ashes. Absolutely no risk of overbowling their pace attack or, for that matter, Graeme Swann, who is not long back from an elbow operation, will be ta. There is also the fact that the follow-on is much more likely to go wrong for a four-bowler attack. But there was another reason - and it was that the pitch was still pretty flat as Alastair Cook emphasised with a blissful innings after tea.

Ball of the day

Swann's three-wicket burst attracted most of the attention, but a delivery from Steven Finn also sticks in the memory. It was the first ball received by Tim Southee, cutting back steeply off a good length, and almost slicing him in two as he managed an inside edge. Finn, back on his full run, was approaching his best again - more good news for England.

Anxiety of the day

Nick Compton's Ashes place is held to be under pressure, for all the protestations within the England camp that he has had a solid start to his Test career, and his anxiety was evident. He got off the mark to the first ball he faced, from Southee, with a dreadful shot - a foot-fast cut which sent the ball whistling behind square on the legside off an inside edge. He became ever more pensive and, even if you could advance a case that he had seen off the new ball, that he had played a team game by contentedly acting as second fiddle to Cook, and that Jonathan Trott was just as pawky, it was an unattractive, not to say limited, innings. The fact Compton had to await a New Zealand review for a clear bat-pad to forward short leg just added to his agony.

Injury of the day

The last thing New Zealand needed as they tried to recover self-respect was an injury to one of their pace bowlers. They suffered one all the same as Boult, who had taken the last two wickets to finish with 5 for 57, pulled out of the attack after aggravating a strained side after only two overs. Boult's figures were his second best in Tests, outdone only by his six wickets against England in Auckland in March.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JG2704 on (May 27, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

@Kamran Sekha on (May 27, 2013, 9:26 GMT) You're spot on there. In SC conditions whereby you're pretty much guaranteed the full 5 day's play AND good weather (so uninterrupted cricket) it could be an idea not to enforce the follow on but most of the time you surely have to make the opposition bat again.

@Train Stationer on (May 27, 2013, 7:47 GMT) While I'm the biggest fan of the 5/1/5 on here , surely the 4 bowlers shouldn't be that tired after what amounts to a few hours cricket between them?

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Follow ons have become rare. Not enforcing the follow on is a trend the Australians have set since they lost the infamous Kolkata test of 2001. I see this as a negative approach that defeats the whole purpose of why the follow on rule was implemented many decades ago. I just hope that there are more instances of teams successfully avoiding defeat either via a rearguard action or the weather. This way such negative approaches will backfire. Only then will teams not opting to enforce the follow on learn a lesson.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

It is much easier to enforce a follow-on when you have a balanced side with 5 bowlers. This England side doesn't even have an occasional bowler to share the workload.

Posted by morgie1982 on (May 27, 2013, 8:18 GMT)

Compo should make way for KP when he returns then JOE can bat where he prefers more

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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