One of the things that some Americans will have a hard time understanding when it comes to Test cricket is when teams decide not to enforce the follow-on.
I am one of those Americans.
When Cook decided not to put Australia back in, I was a little shocked, I must admit, and I was not sure why England of all teams would not just keep turning the screws on a hapless Australia. England’s agenda in Test cricket is just to put on relentless pressure until their opponents (hopefully) collapse. And so not enforcing the follow on seemed quite simply out of character.
So I took to Twitter where I saw that I was not the only American out there who did not get it…
@JamieUSYCA Hope someone explains it to you so you can explain it to me.
— Matt Becker (@limitedovers) July 19, 2013
…and promptly received a polite lesson from my Twitter pals regarding follow-on related strategy:
— Bandon Decker (@Bandon_Decker) July 19, 2013
— JP Marthaler (@marthcricket) July 19, 2013
(For those keeping score at home, both Bandon and JP are Americans…)
I love learning things about cricket. I am a babe in the woods when it comes to the true ins and outs of this magnificent game – and learning the strategy behind the strategy behind the strategy is what keeps me coming back
But the thing is: I knew about the dangers of enforcing the follow on. One of my best posts ever was about Kolkata 2001 which is the poster child for not enforcing it on a deteriorating pitch – but I am not at the point where I can apply knowledge gleaned from prior Tests onto current Tests. That is where my cricket analysis skills fail me – but I am getting there.
And so some might disagree, but I now think it was the right call from Cook, despite the fact that England lost three early wickets thanks to some just TERRIBLE strokes – but no way could Cook have predicted that Pietersen, Trott, and he himself would fall in such shameful fashion. And so it remains the right call.
Speaking of Cook, yesterday I mentioned that England fans should not be worried about Cook’s batting quite yet, as I still think it is too early for panic stations – but after today it won’t be long until supporters and pundits start openly questioning whether or not he has the mental capacity to be both captain and opener. And it is a downward spiral after that. Which is too bad.
Anyway, a good day. England’s day. This match is theirs to lose. Seven days into the Ashes and it looks as though the urn is staying in England.
Sure Australia got those three early wickets this afternoon. And sure this a young side with lots of fight. And sure Peter Siddle is in the form of his life. And sure England’s top order batsmen look highly uninterested in staying out there for any length of time…
But it is just not enough. England could declare now and defend their total.
Australia, and I hate to say it, are just simply not good enough.