Follow-on to Win: teams that achieved this feat in The Test Cricket

In this article, we’ll revisit those test matches in which teams went from follow-on to win in the history of test cricket.

Test match is the oldest form of cricket and is still one of the toughest formats. The competition keeps the test cricket alive and a target audience still prefers test cricket over white ball cricket. The problem is test cricket only looks good when two same standard teams are playing because it does not have that much time to recover from getting trailed. In T20Is and ODIs even a weaker team could beat a stronger team if they get the first blow, but in test cricket, both teams have to be at the same level of excellence to compete with each other. At birth only two teams were used to play test cricket England and Australia, slowly other teams like India, West Indies, and South Africa joined the list of test-playing nations. It has been more than a century but still only 4-5 teams are playing competitive test cricket and teams that are weaker as a test-playing nation barely get a chance to compete against elite teams. We’ve seen many memorable games in test cricket but bouncing back from losing the game by an inning to register a thrilling win are still at the top. There are only five games where we’ve seen this wonder and in this article, we will revisit those games where teams went from follow-on to win.

England vs Australia, 1894, Sydney

Follow-on to Win: teams that achieved this feat in the test
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Australia was hosting England for five test matches and this was the first one starting from 14 December 1894 at the surface of Sydney. This was the time when England used to dominate Australia anywhere they played, from the last Ashes series Australia had only one and England was roaring with nine wins. This was the 11th Ashes series being played and hosts were looking for the first blow. Australian captain Jack Blackham won the toss and asked guests to field. Despite Tom Richardson taking a fifer Australia managed to play 172 overs with scoring 586 runs. Syd Gregory(201) and George Giffen(161)were the top scorers for the Kangaroos in the first inning. It was the time when there wasn’t any day restriction in test cricket after the rest day England came to bat on the fourth day ahead of 130/3 and bowled out in just 325 runs. Australia decided to give them a follow-on so that they could destroy English players mentally and win the game by a margin of innings. English batters game out to bat a second time on the same day and then decided to score a lot of runs. English opener Albert Ward(117) added 102 runs with jack brown(53). For the seventh wicket, Francis Ford(48) and Johnny Briggs(42) broke Australian hopes by adding 89 runs. On the fifth day when the last wicket of England fell in the form of Bill Lockwood, England was leading with 176 runs. There weren’t enough runs to defend for English bowlers for they were quite satisfied with where they were standing. The Australian batters were pretty confident because of what they’d done in the first inning but guests were cooking something else. At once it seemed Australia’s winning comfortable when they were just three down at 130 and 47 runs to win with seven wickets in hand. English bowlers Johnny Briggs and Bobby Peel then took charge and dismissed every seven wickets at just 36 runs at made history by winning the first game after getting a follow-on. Bobby Peel picked up six wickets in the second inning. Later England ended up winning the series 3-2 and continued maintaining their dominance over Australia. 

England vs Australia, 1981, Leeds

Follow-on to Win: teams that achieved this feat in the test
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87 years later both teams repeated the same incident from 1894 and again this was England on the winning side. Till that time the calculations were different Australia started winning more series than England and then the Ashes series became one of the best bilateral series. This was the third test of the Six match series and England was trailing 1-0.  The coin fell in the favour of the guests and they decided to hold the bat. With the help of Opener John Dayson(102) and skipper Kim Huges(89) Australia scored 401 runs runs with the loss of nine wickets and declared the inning. Legendary all-rounder Ian Botham took six Australian wickets in the first inning. When England came to bat Australian bowlers didn’t allow them to stay on the crease for so long and dismissed them at just 174 runs. After peaking with the ball Ian Bothem was the only batter from the English team to score fifty runs. After getting trailed by 227 runs English batters entered again to bat for the follow-on inning. Australia was looking for a comfortable second win and after that Kangaroos will try to break the high hat trick of The Ashes wins for England. History has repeated itself and Kim Huges’s overconfidence made him look a fool when English all-rounder Ian Botham the only player destroying Australia with bat and ball overpowered the Australian bowling lineup again and scored a historical 149 runs in just 148 balls with 27 boundaries and one six, along with the Botham, Graham Dilly(56) and Geoff Boycott(46) contributes important runs at the total of 356 runs. Australian bowler Terry Alderman was the second player to pick six wickets in that game. 

The target wasn’t unachievable after getting smashed by English batters in the third inning still it was a win-win situation for Australia but again guests never looked comfortable with the bat in the final inning and shrank at just 111 runs while running after 130 runs. Bob Willis took eight wickets and Ian Botham for his extraordinary performance was chosen player of the match. Except for the venue everything was nearly as same as 1894. 

India vs Australia, 2001, Kolkata

Follow-on to Win: teams that achieved this feat in the test
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It was Australia again involved in this exceptional event but this time It was India who was on the winning side. Australia was visiting India for three test matches and in the first test visitors overpowered the hosts and entered the Eden Garden for the second test with the lead of 1-0. Ricky Ponting has won the toss and he decided to bat, three games three captains same toss result, and the same decision. With the contribution of Steve Waugh(110), Mathew Hayden(97) and Justin Langer(58) Australia added a massive total of 445 runs in the scoreboard. Harbhajan Singh was the only successful bowler with seven wickets. After conceding 445 runs in the first Indian batters faltered in the second inning and got out at just 171 runs with only VVS Laxman scoring 59 runs. Glenn Maggrath with four wickets looked immensely lethal in front of Indian batters. India was 274 runs behind the Australian total so now they have to bat again. After giving a follow-up Australia was looking to seal the series on day three and they were about to win the game when India lost their three at only 115 including Sachin Tendulkar but then something happened that no one had expected. VVS Laxman(281) first added 117 runs with skipper Saurav Ganguly(48) and then 376 runs with Rahul Dravid(180) which led India to put the highest follow-on score of 657/7 with the solid innings of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. This time the target was big and overconfident Australia had lost the game already, the formalities were done by Harbhajan Singh(6/73) and Sachin Tendulkar(3/31), both spinners restricted Australia to just 212 runs while chasing 384 runs and India won the game by 171 runs. It is the largest victory from follow-on to win journey. VVS Laxman for his extraordinary innings was considered the player of the match. 

New Zealand vs England, 2023, Wellington 

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It is the most recent feat in this section of matches. Last year when England was visiting New Zealand for two tests, they were ahead 1-0 after beating the hosts in the first game and ready to clinch the bilateral series. New Zealand is a strong team and losing a test series at home will surround them with controversies. New Zealand never lost a test series at home against England after 2008 and if the second test didn’t go well England was going to break the streak. Skipper Kane Williamson was lucky with the toss and invited Ben Stokes to bat. New Zealand bowlers seemed helpless in front of Joe Root(153) and Harry Brook(186). Ben declared the innings at a score of 435/8, Matt Henry(4-100) was the only impactful seamer for New Zealand. The way New Zealand has batten in the second inning it was quite confirmed that the guests are going to make the history. New Zealand was bowled out at just 209 runs with not a single batter scoring 50+ runs. New Zealand had to play follow-on after being trailed by 224 runs but that was when the tables turned. New Zealand batters came like a surprise for English bowlers, along with skipper Kane Williamson(132), Tom Blundell(90), Tom Latham(83), Devon Convey(61) and Daryl Mitchell(54)  had contributed to the follow-on score of 483 runs. Kiwis had a decent amount of score to defend on the final day but English players were known to play ‘Bazeball’ cricket and were able to score quick runs when needed. Joe Root(95) had tried his best but they fell one run short and lost the game. Kiwi bowlers Neil Wagner(4-62) and (3-45) saved the game for New Zealand. Kane Willaimson was awarded player of the match and the series resulted draw.