Poor Michael Vaughan. 3 words that are seldom seen together, but in this case there is a reason.
England lost the toss, get sent in, and rack up 593-8 in under 2 days against South Africa. Then they dismiss the tourists for just over a third of that in under a day. They are on a roll, Monty is getting plenty of turn, the South Africans are playing him from the crease, so he enforces the follow on.
But then the pitch dies out, as it seems to do at Lords these days, the South Africans revert to type and play classic 1950s cricket by playing like brick walls, and Monty loses his zing. 3 wickets in 2 days, the match is a draw and people seem to think it is because he enforced the follow on. Somehow the theory is that England would have had a better chance of winning if they had 4 sessions in which to bowl the fatties out instead of 6.
There is an insidious modern way of thinking that the follow-on is bad, that the correct option is to bat on; thereby closing the game yet making the draw the most likely result. Some Aussie apologist even suggested during the week that the rule was an anomaly.
Anomalies are what test cricket is all about. Now, more than ever, that needs protecting.
This nonsense all started after that test in 2001. The one where Laxman and Dravid put on a million runs, and India came from behind to beat Australia in front of a few hundred thousand fans in Kolkata.
Anyone with an ounce of perspective can tell that this game was a freak occurrence. Laxman and Dravid played the innings of their lives, and Harbijan was unstoppable.
The scars from that have run deep though. Since that match, Australia have adopted the philosophy of not enforcing the follow-on. Ignore the thought of crushing an opponent when down, this is the plucking wings off an insect mode of winning.
The worst offender in this modern crime, worse than txt speak, is Australia and in particular Ricky Ponting. If you dont believe that check out this drivel . Otherwise sensible people trying to find some moral high ground in playing cricket like its a cautious game of Water Dripping Death Ritual. And, to make it worse, David Barry jumps in and threatens to unleash statistics. Damn statistics. This is about principle.
What are to make of this rubbish? Is not enforcing the follow-on the new Aussie Way?? Its hardly up there with sledging and claiming non catches. Greg Chappell and Greg Dyer must squirm at this new level of non sportsmanship.
The Brave Baggy Greens even adopted this snivelling approach against New Zealand of all countries. 320 runs ahead on the first innings, and you inflict Langer and the likes for 139/2 off 56 overs. Now that is just not right.
The World Trade Centre still stood in those glorious days when Laxman, Dravid and Harby pulled one out of the hat. People should get over it, and stop this torture.
If you have a side on the ropes you turn the screws.
To not enforce a follow-on is just wrong. It is the same as putting in a cover and leg-side sweeper in the first morning of a test match.
It is bowling finger spinners over the wicket into the bowlers foot holes.
It is bringing Kallis on to bowl in the first half-hour of a test. When you have sent them in.
It is coming off at the first hint of bad light when you have two batsmen set and the opposition bowlers are tired and downbeat.
It is coming in at 500/3 and grinding out a 120 ball 37* to help that average.
It is batting on for that extra half hour before declaring. Just in case.
It is the ring field.
It is the plague of the 21st century, and it must be outlawed; especially in Australia.
Good on you Michael. You did the honourable thing. It didnt come off, but you can blame your over-rated spinner and the South African wagon wheels for that.
You were right.