New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 4th day February 9, 2014

'Never regretting not enforcing follow-on' - McCullum


Didn't regret not enforcing follow-on - McCullum

Brendon McCullum did not enforce the follow-on at Eden Park and watched his batsmen crash to 105 in 41.2 overs in their second innings. He then saw India motor to 222 for 2 in their chase of 407. However, McCullum said that at no point did he second guess the choice he made, and was instead proud of the character New Zealand showed to absorb whatever India threw at them and secure a 40-run win.

"You can't regret any decision you make and you make that decision, you put some thought into it," McCullum said. "Specially when it comes to the follow-on, you speak to your bowlers and your senior players. Some people have different theories but you try to garner as much majority as you can. Ultimately someone has got to make that decision and I guess that comes down to me. I made the decision and I never regretted it for a moment."

McCullum reasoned there was no knowing how much India would have got had they been made to follow-on, and that New Zealand could have been handed a tricky chase. "There's no guarantee we would have bowled out India for 100 in their second innings and I said right at the outset that we have got the bowlers to take 20 wickets. It was a matter of trying to give them the most amount of rest to do so and we may have won it more comfortably but I would hate to see us chase 150-200 on the last day on that wicket with (Ravindra) Jadeja coming in to play."

Neil Wagner had said after the end of day three that New Zealand would have taken a 400-plus target for India anytime, and McCullum agreed it was a daunting total, despite the hosts' batting meltdown on the third day. "After we decided not to enforce the follow-on, we sort of hoped we would get a little more than a 100 in our second turn of bat. But that's what we got. I still thought 400 was a very good score. I think there's only three [four] teams in the history of the game that have chased over 400."

Although history was behind New Zealand, India had batted themselves into a strong position. McCullum said he knew India would take the game deep and was happy that his bowlers were able to ride out the challenge. "It was still a lot of runs on the board but the wicket was starting to play pretty well as well, so it was always going to be a tough ask and we knew that it was going to be a close contest towards the end. We also knew the quality of their batsmen and how they are capable of putting together big scores and big partnerships. At one stage, when they were sitting 220 for 2, we were starting to get ourselves behind the eight-ball and it took something pretty special to get us out of that.

"You always have to have that optimism right throughout. Even at 220 for 2, I still felt that we weren't that far away and that if we could get a couple of wickets leading into that new ball, I still felt confident that we were going to be ok. But then again, my confidence doesn't necessarily marry out with reality at times as well.

"It was a matter of trying to work out the ebbs and flows of the game, when to push, when to pull, when to attack at times and defend at other times. Whilst we didn't ram home the advantage we had in the second innings with the bat, I thought we showed a lot of heart and a lot of character to continue to bash away and keep fighting hard and get the result in the end. So I am immensely proud of all the boys. Neil Wagner in particular was outstanding."

Wagner sent back both Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. The pair had added 126 for the third wicket, and once that stand was broken, New Zealand kept striking, and made the second new ball count as well, which McCullum was counting on. "We knew that was going to be a big part in the game. We needed wickets leading into that second new ball but we knew that the second new ball would certainly be of assistance to us if we did manage to be able to bowl at their middle to lower order."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ravi on February 10, 2014, 0:16 GMT

    I don't think it was a great decision! The argument that it was made to rest the bowlers is unacceptable... they had bowled for only 60 overs and that too only 13 overs were bowled the day India got out. I think they were more afraid of India's batting and feared they may have to chase down on a turning pitch the last day! If India had grafted instead of getting into the T20 mode they would have won this game!

  • Sanjay on February 9, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    I can't believe how much grief Kiwi fans are giving McCullum for not enforcing the follow on. Didn't he do that against WI and it didn't work?

    India's reaction to bowling in NZ's 2nd inns was totally unexpected, even from the most optimistic Indian fans. Let's take England for a moment, they would have "bowled dry", slowed the game down to a crawl, placed fielders all over the boundary and waited for a declaration.

    McCullum can be forgiven for believing that's how the script would go with India.

  • Prem on February 9, 2014, 23:07 GMT

    McCallum is trying to take credit because NZ barely hung in to win (from a very strong position early on day 3). If NZ lost he would have credited the decision to the people who advised him. McCallum is NZ's worst captain from a country that has some great ones Stephen Fleming, Geoff Howarth, Mark Burgess, Martin Crowe etc.

  • David on February 9, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    There doesn't seem to be much follow-on enforcement these days. Perhaps because so much cricket is being played - captains are afraid that if they make their bowlers bowl two innings in a row they will be more likely to break down. But as an Australian I may be more frightened of that than most.

  • M on February 9, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    Wc1992....i even reckon had India won, mcullum would have started his press conference by saying "in retrospect probably missed a trick by not enforcing the follow-on". He knows he got away with a balls up but should admit it and learn from it. If the exact same situation arises next test, I would bet my house he would forget his own elaborate excuses and quietly enforce the follow on. Look at Dhoni, also so bloody stubborn by inserting the opposition at every toss....again it is stubbornness, which unlike mccullum, he is NOT getting away with. All i am saying is, have faith in your team as a captain and don't be defensive for no reason!

  • Niall on February 9, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    @wc1992. It's absolute arrogance to say that every cricket fan knew it was the wrong decision. We'll never know how many India would have scored against a tired bowling attack and then, who knows, in the 4th innings. The fact that it almost went pear shaped was due to a woeful NZ 2nd innings. Baz has said that he asked a whole range of ppl for an opinion so every cricket fan obviously didn't have the same opinion as you. Great win for the Kiwis, well done and now about time for BCCI to consider DRS? Certainly can't complain when decisions go against them.

  • m on February 9, 2014, 20:06 GMT

    i think its just a agroance of B M side to say no regret .... its more like we made a decision and we stuck with it and it came off ........ every cricket followers knows it was wrong decision have big lead and moving ball why not and oppsition have no spinner to bother you on day 5 if you have to chase .......i am kiwi but hate those captan who only admit their fault when they lose and show off when they win

  • Rehan on February 9, 2014, 20:06 GMT

    Some of the guys are reading too much into the decision to not enforce follow on. Initially I was also surprised at this decision but McCullum has clearly explained his thinking and I think it was a reasonable line of thought. It is not about not having confidence in your team, it is about not under-estimating a strong batting lineup specially keeping in mind that his bowlers had already bowled for a day and were not rested. No one expected new zealand to post a 500 score after being 30/3. Similarly indian batting could have bounced back posting a 450 odd score and setting up a potentially tricky last day chase of 150-200 for new zealand. The alternate was to bat for a little bit stretch the lead close to 500 and then declare, giving india a mountain to climb and put them under immense pressure. I am sure McCullum backed his team to win regardless of which path he took, but he thought the second path was more comfortable.

  • Tom on February 9, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    @haq33, you are absolutely on the mark. Mccullum decision shows his lack of confidence in his team's ability and fear of opposition. He got away with this victory but actually have given a great morale boost to both India's batting and bowling. After dismissing India cheaply on the third day with a lead of 300 and with two session to play that day, the bowl is moving around and the bowlers are in supreme form with opposition in disarray just how a captain can make such a defensive decision. You are actually giving the opposition a chance to escape with less time to bat out and weather factor as well. I honestly think the momentum has already shifted and India will go all out for a victory knowing they can now take 20 NZ wickets cheaply.

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    Well first NZ played well and deserved to win. Congrats

    Since 1932 India had a chance to play the quickest bowlers Yadav and Varun Aaron with peak pace of 150 kph and average pace of 143 kph. Two bowlers along with Ishant and Shami was the choice to go.

    The absence of Gambhir, Sehwag as openers and Harbhajan and Mishra was felt. Like I have said before The T20 and ODI 2015 WC needs to be won. So with the inclusions of Gambhir and Sehwag is needed. For both we have

    Sehwag Dhawan Gambhir Kohli Yuvraj Raina Dhoni

    Shami Aaron Yadav Jadeja

    We made changes, added Dhawan along with genuine pace of Yadav and Aaron

    Of Tests the bowling attack overseas is the same, Yadav Aaron and Shami

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