What Is Follow-on in Cricket?

All You Need to Know About Follow-on in Cricket

Cricket is a game that tends to baffle the uninitiated. The intricacies of the sport force newcomers to wonder what on earth they’ve got themselves into. The rules are convoluted, even for seasoned cricket watchers. It can be quite daunting for newcomers. This is because the longer variants of the sport (Test cricket, first-class cricket, and one-day cricket) can go on for days with many rules to remember throughout the match.

Cricket has a rich heritage dating back many centuries. Nowadays, there are two main forms of the game: one-day cricket, and test (or first-class) cricket. Both have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, but if you’re new to the sport, chances are you’ll be more familiar with ODI cricket. Proponents of test cricket might mockingly call ODIs “limited overs”, but the stats back them up: the average ODI match lasts 3 hours and 44 minutes, compared with 5 hours and 23 minutes for a test match. This makes them much more convenient for spectators who can watch an entire ODI in a single sitting rather than having to spend an entire day.

Anybody who has ever watched a test match will have heard references to ‘follow-on’, yet be confused as to what it means.

Regarding Test cricket, what is the “follow-on” rule?

The follow-on in cricket can be quite a confusing topic for newbies. The follow-on occurs when the sides batting second has lost at least 4 wickets and have fewer than 100 runs on the board. The batting side will automatically have to bat again. This rule makes it very difficult for the team that’s chasing because if they don’t score 100 runs in their first innings, they have to go out there and try again!

Follow-on in cricket is a term that refers to the continuation of play on the third and fourth days of a Test match, assuming that the same conditions prevail.

The follow-on is a rule in test cricket that allows the team batting second to force the opposing team to bat again immediately after they are all out. This is usually only used in matches that last beyond two days. You can see it in teams’ batting order when they are batting defensively, the follow-on rule may be used. For example, both sides have crossed 200 runs and there’s a target of 400 runs. The team coming to bat may want to ensure that the game lasts as long as possible by using the follow-on rule. The rule states that if a team is scored 60 runs behind the other team and loses just one wicket then the fielding side must bat again immediately thereafter.

The follow-on concept is unnecessary in shorter versions of cricket, such as ODI as well as T20, because each opponent bats just once throughout a match.

Also See: How is the Run Rate Calculated in Cricket?

Follow-ons in Test Cricket: What are the Rules of Play?

A rule used only in the longer games of cricket, the follow-on rule acts similarly to baseball’s “recapture the lead” rule, in that it allows a team that has been leading by a certain number of runs to make sure that they don’t lose the lead by declaring their innings closed.

The follow-on rule only applies during multi-day matches, which include Test cricket, first-class matches, and some international competitions. It means that the team that won the toss is expected to bat again if it loses a wicket in its first innings before reaching a total of 200 runs. In other words, if Team A’s total is 200 runs or more than that of Team B, they can ask Team B to follow on. This rule is used only in test cricket.

What triggers the follow-on?

According to the MCC’s Law 14, teams can enforce the follow-on (ask the team batting second to immediately bat again) when the team batting second has scored less than 150 runs in 75% of their first innings’ completed overs, or less than 100 completed overs.

In matches lasting three or four days, this follow-on can always be imposed if the club batting firstly does have a 150-run margin after both sides have bowled once. Or

Matches played over five days — 200-run lead.

Lead by 150 runs in a three- or four-day match.

A 100-run margin was established in the two-day encounter.

75-run lead in a one-day match

Because cricket is frequently influenced by bad weather, competitive matches are frequently cut short. If a whole day has been a “wash out” – whereby play is postponed once per day after 5-day as well as a 4-day tournament –the shown above regulations apply.

A match may be abandoned to allow a better or more impartial venue to be found. The rules describe how and when this happens, which depends on the type of match.

How Does Enforcing The Follow-On Benefit You?

For a myriad of purposes, cricket teams would opt to implement this follow-on and compel the opposing side to bat afterward! Here are several explanations:

  1. Enforcing the follow-on will offer your entire team a big morale boost. Particularly your bowlers! This shows them also that skipper trusts in their ability to take additional ten wickets!
  2. On the other side, it displays dominance and a determination to win! Since the follow-on hasn’t been used very often, it might be a major psychological setback for the opponent.
  3. Possibilities of a swift victory: Implementing this follow-on boosts a team’s prospects of succeeding to over 100 percent, and frequently results in a one-sided whitewash triumph. Players can have additional relaxation time by winning the game earlier with a swift win.
  4. If your team’s bowling is on point and the opposition is struggling to match your score, you may be right to enforce the follow-on before they can recover. This gives your bowlers a chance to finish them off!

Also See: Why Do Cricketers Have Numbers on Their Shirts?

Contrary To Popular Belief, There Are some Disadvantages to Using This Method

  1. Fatigue of the players: When it’s hot as well as humid, cricketers have a harder time fielding the ball. Fielding plus bowling for continuous innings could result in weariness and discomfort if the attacking team responds and starts accumulating runs.
  2. A 200-run cushion isn’t a sure thing: While a team that is batting first has an edge when their lead is over 200, that isn’t a guaranteed win. Test cricket performances have been steadily rising, with the amazing team score hovering around 300 and 350 boundaries. So, to be truly safe of an outright victory, the first batting team would need a lead of at least 300 runs.
  3. Pitch deterioration: Test cricket pitches are generally made of grass. The match duration is over five days, which gives time for the pitch to wear down. The cracks and the abrasions cause a substantial increase in bounce, making it difficult for batsmen to defend on the front foot. This situation makes it easier for fast bowlers to generate lift and for spin bowlers to obtain a higher degree of turn.


The follow-on rule is one of the oldest and most traditional rules in cricket. It has existed and will continue to live on, as a requirement for the team batting second to reach a certain target or face an automatic loss. It’s a simple concept but once you understand it, you’ll know how to take advantage of it to win matches.

With high stakes and high drama, enforcing the follow-on is a crucial rule of cricket. Abuse the advantage, and the opposition will be run out before they’ll know what hit them. When you have a strong team, don’t hesitate to use this opportunity.

Main Image Source: Pixabay

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Dave Peterson
Dave Peterson
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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