Tuesday, 15 July 2008

That bloody follow-on debacle

With my finest schoolboy cap on, the one with the clever graphical calculator pocket stitched into the back so I could always graph sinh x at the drop of a hat, I've been trying to see why the majority of those paid for their thoughts think the follow on was past obvious whilst those who I'd like to think of as my contemporaries say it was a stupidly crass and dumb move on Vaughans part.

Initially we have the state of play as of late Saturday afternoon. ENG 597/7d, RSA 247/10. Ntini and Steyn had been struggling to make the batsmen play with their balls and only 3 of their recognised batsman made double figures. Had it not been for Prince the Saffers could only have dreamt about 200+ runs.

From this point it surely looks like they are down and out, and England are in the position they are due to skill and form on both sides of the fence. Last 6 Lords tests have been drawn which should have been in Virgil's mind when he did the deed, but the raw figures say that this isn't just luck or an accident on Englands part. They deserve to be where they are and there is going to be one hell of a victory here.

So by Sunday the state of play has changed a lot and ending up only losing 3 wickets by Monday evening looks like something went wrong somewhere, but I can't see that that was the case in reality. By this time in the match the it seems that 247 was a freakish total and the pitch was actually worringly good, and maybe Morkel and co shouldn't have been lambasted as muchas they were. No one was really blaming our bowlers to the extreme like theirs were on the first few days.

This follow on in itself then. Sidders had a wonky night sleep and wasn't too hot, and it's only a 4 man attack. Would letting them sit in the pavillion for 1 1/2 or 2 sessions have changed anything? Well sure they'd have been more rested, and by Monday evening they were in a sorry state and worrying it could hang over to this coming Friday, but that's pure refined hindsight surely?

What was the alternative? England send Mssrs Cook and Strauss out again and by the end of Diagnosis Murder they're at 200/4 and give South Africa a day and a half to get a stupid total at 5rpo. They were already not going to manage it with the follow on, other than a net session and a few extra cups of Earl Grey for the lower order and a Penguin or two for Broad, it just doesn't seem worth it. And what if they DID do it? They do have the batting power to get the job done and then there would be so many beying for blood in the media...

Ultimately it just doesn't seem to matter. The match would never have had a result either way, but there still seems to have been a chance with the follow on, aching backs or not. It's not a clear cut as I thought it was, but still seems like the right decision to me.

Vaughans thoughts for the follow on

A - I don't want to get clean bowled again. People might start talking. Think I've got away with it so far.
B - If I get Monty to bowl for 14 hours he'll never be able to fight for the last Fruit Corner later.
C - Wonder if Baby Strauss could keep better than Tiny Tim
D - Well at least a defunct Sidebottom makes picking Jones easier
E - Hey, we could win this!

3 comments:

Straight Point said...

needless to say i agree with you spi...

had they batted instead of following on...they would have accused on not showing confidence on the bowling who but for prince 100 was not even close to half the total?

all this assuming eng second innings would be without any hiccups...i still recall the match of last ashes series in which eng made around 550 and still lost...

if you dont back up your bowlers to take another 10 wickets in two days you better bat on and on and on...

all this criticism is very reactive coz nobody raised even an eyebrow when it happened...

and last but not least...lets gve saffers thier due credit for their resolute rearguard...coz even on flattest of pitch it takes special effort to come from so much behind...

it does not happen everyday...

...and adding you on blogroll...

Spigot said...

Well I'll put the order in to cafepress for two secret club tshirts...

Sure the bowlers were pooped out, but the 2nd innings was a new day, and it wasn't meant to last that long. If only they'd appealled Smith would have gone for loose change and who knows what might have gone down. But come Sunday evening it was supposed to be a done deal, and huge credit to Amla and co for proving otherwise.

Straight Point said...

looking fwd to receive mine...before coffee gets cold i.e. :))