Forget the follow-on, worry about the clock

Last night, as England started their reply to Australia’s massive first innings score, the television authorities showed us how many runs England needed to avoid the follow on.

As it stands, England are 3 for 53, so they need about 200 to avoid the follow on. If England score any more then 250 in their first innings, I doubt Ricky Ponting will be in any hurry whatsoever to enforce it.

The issue for England is time. They won’t be given a sniff of a chance to win this Test, the issue will be whether or not they can bat out 130 or so overs in the final innings on a fourth and fifth day track against Shane Warne.

England will have to bat out today. The runs column does not matter so much as the wickets column. Although given that Flintoff and Pieterson are two of the batsmen that England’s hopes depend, the runs should take care of themselves. Australia’s bowlers will be bowling to aggressive fields so there will be plenty of scoring opportunities.

However England will make their task a lot easier if they forget about the follow on mark. Unless they are totally routed this morning, it is unlikely to be an issue.

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By the by, I’ve noted online some English supporters are very unhappy about the aggressive nature of the Australian ground authorities. All I can say is that this trend has been going on for years, and is just getting worse and worse. As an Australian, I’d like to apologize to any stray Barmy Army readers who come across this post, because Cricket Australia really are unspeakable.

Our cricket team is wonderful and our administrators are deplorable. There’s nothing we can do about it.

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Greg Baum suggests divine intervention might be required for England. There’s no rain in sight, though. There’s been a nasty drought in Australia this year.

Lawrence Booth admires McGrath’s planning.

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