Shane Warne has revealed Steve Waugh’s decision to enforce the follow-on against India in 2001 came despite the reluctance of much of his attack.
Among Australia’s most successful ever captains, alongside the dominance of his team, Waugh’s time in charge is remembered for two controversial decisions.
The first was dropping Warne for the final Test of the 1999 tour of the West Indies. The second was electing to enforce the follow-on against India in the 2001 Eden Gardens Test.
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England well in control
Australia looked to be on the cusp of conquering what Waugh had dubbed the “final frontier” midway through the second of three Tests in India.
Having thumped India by 10 wickets in the series-opener, Australia had one hand firmly on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after bowling the hosts out for 171 in their first innings in response to the tourists’ first dig of 445.
It was midway through India’s first innings that Waugh floated the idea of enforcing the follow-on to his attack.
“It was 45 degrees and we’d been out in the field for a long time. The wicket was going to get worse. I think at that time, I remember Steve Waugh coming up to us bowlers – Gillespie, McGrath, myself and Kasprowicz,” Warne said on Sky Sports during the third Test.
“As we had them seven down, eight down, nine down, Steve came up and went ‘Hey! How you feeling?’. McGrath was like ‘I’m a bit weary. I was like… weary, let’s use that word. Kasprowicz was like ‘I’m ready to go skip’ and I was like, ‘Come on, Kaspa’.”
Steve Waugh’s decision did allow for one of cricket’s greatest ever innings.Source: News Corp Australia
Warne believes Waugh’s decision to enforce the follow-on was down to his desire to continue a record-breaking winning streak that had already stretched to 16 Tests.
“Steve was adamant that he wanted to win that record amount of Test matches in a row, I think it was 17,” Warne said.
To the king of spin, it was simply an invitation for India to get back into the game on a pitch that was going to offer plenty to the tweakers as the match went on.
“To me, it was the only way India could win the Test match. If we go and bat again and make the 200 – the lead was 450 (474) – they try to defend it, it’s a different game. So yeah, I think he got that wrong.”
Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman batted and batted and batted…Source: News Limited
What followed was that famous partnership between VVS Laxma (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) as India’s second innings stretched across three days and tallied 657 runs before Sourav Ganguly declared with a lead of 383.
As the sun set on day five and Harbhajan Singh celebrated his sixth wicket of the innings — 13th of the game — India had pulled off the impossible. The hosts won the Test by 171 runs and went on to win the series 2-1.