Follow-on rule in cricket: What is the follow-on rule in Test cricket?

The follow-on rule in cricket is one of the most important rules in the Test format of the game. Those who follow and play Test cricket will know that each team bats twice in a Test match that lasts five days.

All matches have four innings with one team batting first and third innings while the other team bats in the second and the fourth innings of matches. However, the traditional sequence can be made to change using the follow-on law, which is followed by all teams across the world.

What is the follow-on rule in cricket? How to calculate follow-on in Test cricket?

Lead on first innings:

How many runs to avoid follow-on is a frequently asked question. The case for the follow-on rule in cricket appears in the scene after the team batting second falls behind by 200 or more runs of the runs scored by the team batting first.

According to the law, In the second innings of a Test match, the batting team needs to cross the target which is 200 runs less than what is achieved in the first innings.

However, if it is a curtailed game, how to calculate follow-on in cricket is changed: For a three or four-day Test, 150 runs is the follow-on number, 100 runs in a two-day Test and 75 in one-day matches.

follow-on rule in cricket
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If during play, the team batting second fails to cross the target, the captain of the fielding team might ask the batting team to bat again in the Test match.

In such a case, the batting team will have first to chase down the deficit, then post a target, and defend it in the last innings of Test matches.

The captain of the opposition has to notify the umpires and team of his follow-up decision, and it cannot be reversed.

First day's play lost: 

In the event that the Test games don't witness any play on their opening day, the follow-on will be applied according to the number of days left from the commencement of play.

It's important to note that the day when play initially begins is regarded as a full day for this calculation, regardless of the actual start time.

Fielding Positions in Cricket

Is enforcing the follow-on rule in cricket necessary?

No, the rules are not a compulsion during play. It is a decision that is entirely taken by the team batting first if they want to enforce the follow-on or not.

When is follow on given is a decision is majorly governed by a variety of factors, including the time left in Test matches, pitch, the weather forecast, and especially if the bowlers can continue bowling the long spells again.

Has any team won after the follow-on in cricket? 

In the history of more than 150 years of Test cricket, only thrice in the world has a team won after following on in a Test match. Interestingly, on all three occasions, Australia was the losing team.

Most recently, a team won after a follow-on was in 2001 at the iconic Eden Gardens. India was asked to follow on after scoring 171 in response to Australia's 445. However, the magical partnership between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid combined with Harbhajan Singh's hattrick on the last day, propelled India to victory after a follow-up in the Test against Australia, making it one of the most memorable wins in sports.

Advantages and disadvantages of the follow-on rule in cricket


Momentum: When the fielding team successfully dismisses their opponents and establishes a lead of more than 200 runs, it instils them with confidence.

The team enforcing the follow-on often takes wickets in consecutive innings because the conditions favor them, and their bowlers are in prime form.

Chances of a quick victory: Opting for the follow-on significantly enhances a team's likelihood of winning, nearly guaranteeing a victory and often resulting in a comprehensive win for one side. This early closure of the match also affords players more time for rest and recuperation.

Psychological blow to the opponent: Enforcing the follow-on itself can be a humbling experience for the second batting team in cricket.

However, if they are swiftly dismissed and lose the match by an innings, it can deeply impact player morale and self-assurance, which is crucial in a lengthy test series spanning four or five matches.


Player fatigue: Fielding demands significant physical exertion in cricket, especially in challenging conditions like heat and humidity. If the batting team responds by scoring runs, continuous fielding and bowling in consecutive innings can lead to player fatigue and potential injuries.

Pitch deterioration: In Test cricket, pitches tend to develop cracks and become harder after several days of play. Consequently, fast and medium-pace bowlers can extract more swing and bounce.

Therefore, if a batting team follows on and manages to post a competitive total, the bowling team will confront challenging bowling conditions in their second innings.

200-Run Margin isn't enough: As professional cricket has evolved, batting standards have improved, resulting in average team scores ranging from 300 to 350 runs per innings in Test cricket. Consequently, a lead of merely 200 runs doesn't guarantee victory. The first batting team would ideally require a lead of at least 300 runs to ensure a secure win.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. When is follow-on in cricket given?

Follow-on in sports can be given if the team batting second falls behind the first innings score of the opposition by a margin of 200 runs or more. The decision to impose the follow-on is solely on the captain of the team, which has the lead.

2. How is the follow-on in cricket runs calculated in Test?

The follow-on runs are calculated easily by subtracting 200 from the runs scored by the team batting first. For example, if India bats first against Australia in games and scores 350 runs in the first innings, then follow-on runs will be 150 (350-200) runs. In such a scenario, Australia must score at least a run more than the follow-on target.

3. How to avoid the follow-on in Test cricket?

A team can avoid the rules for follow-on in Test cricket by making at least 201 more runs than the team that batted in the first innings.