1. Day Three
New Zealand dismiss the West Indies and are 246 runs ahead after the first innings. The opposition are reeling on a tricky, slow pitch. Half an hour or so later, the third innings of the match is 8 overs old, and has yielded just 7 runs. The experienced opener is out, and the number three bat who scored a ton on the first day scraped two runs from his first 29 balls, before being bowled by the thirtieth. The nightwatchman is in and is playing for close.
This game could have been over by lunch on Day Four. Instead however, New Zealand decided to bat again; Brendan McCullum decided against enforcing the follow-on. Don’t get me wrong, they will probably scrape together a target which is beyond the West Indies over the next day or so, and will give themselves a race against (a lot of) time to bowl them out sometime on Day Five. They’ll probably still win the game, but that isn’t the issue.
It used to be rare for a captain *not* to enforce the follow-on. Nowadays captains seem to prefer not enforcing the follow-on as some form of conservative tactic, ignoring the fact that in history it has only gone against the enforcers just three times!
I’m not overly sure what the logic is. I’m particularly unsure if the next move is to bat like limpets and struggle to 7/2 from eight overs. New Zealand only needed 81.2 overs to polish off the first innings so it isn’t exactly as if they have overworked themselves to date. Is everyone really so scared of a freak Laxman*/Botham**/Peel*** style turnaround?! If this was Alastair Cook captaining, we would be lampooning him. Brendan McCullum deserves the same.
* interestingly, Sachin Tendulkar took 3-31 in Australia’s second innings in that game as they collapsed from 166-3 to 174-8. If it were the Pakistani’s crumbling like that…
**I noticed on the scorecard of this game that Geoffrey Boycott bowled 3 overs in Australia’s first innings!?
***I have no idea who Peel is.
2. Further Reading
As above, Geoffrey Boycott turned his arm over on a few occasions for England. Not so much a Jonathan Trott as maybe an Ian Bell, I’m guessing. On one of those occasions England used ten bowlers against South Africa, and Boycott got Graeme Pollock out!
3. Alfonso Thomas
Just a quick mention: Four wickets in four balls. The only thing I can remember off the top of my head quite like it was Caddick’s four in an over against the Windies in 2000-ish, but even that isn’t four wickets in four balls. As importantly in the context of the match, though, was his 38 runs in a 9th wicket partnership of 77 with Overton which stole the initiative in the match.