Cricket has been played for many years now and it is a sport that is popular in a number of countries. The top level of play is test cricket and this pits international sides against each other in a match that is scheduled for 5 days. The game follows a set format and both sides are given the opportunity to bat twice, with the aim being to score as many runs as possible to win the game. Generally one side will bat first and when they are bowled out the second team will bat. Following this the first team will usually bat again, although this is not always the case. If the second team batting scores poorly and does not come within 200 runs of the first teams total number of runs they are forced to follow on. This means the second team bats again immediately following their first effort. This is usually a sure sign of defeat and most teams that follow on tend to go on and lose the game. To show how difficult it is to win after following on, in the history of test cricket only three teams have ever managed to achieve this feat. They include the following.
1895 – England v Australia
To find the first time that a test cricket team won after following you have to go back in history 115 years. This took place in the 1894/95 Ashes series between England and Australia. Australia opened the batting in the first innings and scored a massive total of 586 runs, with Syd Gregory scoring a double century. England scored a decent total of 325 but this still left them 261 behind. They followed on and played extremely well to run up a total of 437, although this left them holding a lead of only 176 with two days of the game remaining. It looked like certain defeat and even more so when, by the end of the fourth days play Australia had reached 113 for the loss of only 2 wickets. However rain overnight gave England some hope and their spin bowlers took advantage of the conditions to bowl Australia out for 166. This gave England a famous 10 run victory.
1981 – England v Australia
The second time a team won after following on is more recent, although it features the same two sides playing in another ashes series. The 1981 Ashes series has generally come to be known as Botham’s Ashes as one of the stars was Ian Botham of England and he featured in this follow on win. Australia opened the batting and scored well to reach 401 by the time they were bowled out. England responded with a poor total of 174 and was forced to follow on. Things did not improve for them as the Australian bowlers reduced them to 135 for 7 wickets, still 92 runs behind. However Botham came to the fore at this point and hammered 149 runs. When all the England players had been bowled out they had managed to give themselves a lead of 129 runs. It still looked very much like Australia would win. However England bowler Bob Willis put on a great show on the final day, taking 8 Australian wickets and his efforts helped the England side bowl out Australia for only 111 runs. This gave England an 18 run follow on victory.
2001 – India v Australia
Australia again featured in the only other match that has resulted in a follow on victory and they were again the losers. The Australian batsmen played well in their first innings and scored heavily to reach 445. Their bowlers backed them up and managed to bowl India out for only 171 runs, forcing the follow on. However the Indian batsmen took control in their second innings with two in particular doing well. VVS Laxman scored an amazing 280 runs and Rahul Dravid made 180. The Indian team batted until almost lunchtime on the fifth day running up a score of 657. This gave them a lead of 383, although with only the final afternoon to play it looked like the game would end in a draw. The Australian batsmen looked to be doing enough to secure a draw when they reached 161 for only 3 wickets lost. However an incredible collapse saw them lose 5 quick wickets in only 31 balls. When the final two wickets were taken by India, Australia had only reach 212 runs and this meant India claimed an amazing 171 run victory.
Following on happens fairly regularly in test cricket and most teams that do so usually taste defeat. However the three matches shown above were instances where the team following on managed to claim incredible victories and this is the only three times it has happened in test cricket history.
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