Which was the first Test cricket team to win after following on?

For readers unfamiliar with the concept of ‘following on’ in Test cricket, Law 14.1.1 of the Laws of Cricket states, ‘In a two-innings match of 5 days or more [such as a typical Test match], the side which bats first and leads by at least 200 runs shall have the option of requiring the other side to follow their innings.’

In the history of Test cricket, which dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria, just four teams have won after following on. England famously did so in the third Test of the 1981 Ashes series – subsequently dubbed ‘Botham’s Ashes’ – at Headingley, Leeds, after trailing by 227 runs at the completion of the first innings. Having scored 174 in the first innings, England were 137-7 and still 92 runs behind Australia’s first innings total of 401-9 declared when Ian Botham was joined at the crease by fast bowler Graham Dilley. To cut a long story short, Botham went on to make 149 not out and Dilley a Test high score of 56 and Bob Willis took 8-43 in the second innings as Australia were dismissed for a paltry 111 in pursuit of 130.

However, Headingley was not the first time England had beaten Australia after following on. In the first Test of the 1894/95 Ashes series at the Sydney Circket Ground (SCG) in December, 1894, Australia batted first and recovered from 21-3 to post massive first innings of 585 all out, with the diminutive Syd Gregory top-scoring on 201. England made 325 in the first innings and 437 in the second, setting Australia a target of 177. At 113-2 at the end of the fifth day, the home side looked certain to win, but lost their last eight wickets for 53 runs, with slow left-armer Bobby Peel taking 6-67, to give the visitors an unlikely victory.

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