ICC may not give a toss any more
The International Cricket Council is considering scrapping the coin toss in test matches.
A toss of the coin has been used to decide which team bats first since tests started in 1877, with the home team captain tossing the coin and the visiting skipper calling heads or tails.
But worries about home teams manipulating pitch conditions sees the ICC’s cricket committee meeting this month to review the format with the suggested alternative seeing the visiting team automatically given the option of batting or bowling first.
‘‘There is serious concern about the current level of home team interference in test pitch preparation, and more than one committee member believes that the toss should be automatically awarded to the visiting team in each match, although there are some others on the committee who do not share that view,’’ the ICC said, with the topic expected to be vigorously debated amongst a number of proposals which they hope will reinvigorate the longest form of the game.
The coin toss idea is similar to the format introduced to English county cricket two years ago where the visiting team now has the option of bowling first or opting for a traditional toss.
This was brought in to encourage teams to produce flatter pitches, rather than bowler-friendly wickets, and in the hope that spinners would bowl more overs.
ESPNcricinfo report success with the new county format. In 2016 85 per cent of matches went into a fourth day compared to 74 per cent in 2015 – the highest percentage since 2009.
The average score for the first innings was 332, just up from 325 in 2015. The average score for the second innings of a match was 343, up from 290 in 2015. A total of 843 wickets were taken by spin in 2016, up from 752 in 2015.
Seventy-one of the 142 matches in both divisions were drawn, discounting two abandoned matches, meaning there was a positive result in the other 71 – whereas in 2015, there were 93 results and only 51 draws.
The committee will also discuss docking points from home teams in the new test championship for pitches that are marked poor by match officials. They are concerned at an increase in sub-par wickets in recent years.
The committee will put forward recommendations to the chief executives’ committee for approval at the ICC’s annual meeting in June.
Any change was expected to take effect for the start of the inaugural test championship, starting with the 2019 Ashes series between Australia and England in July.
The coin toss before test matches may become a thing of the past.