ICC may not give a toss any more

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Cricket

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.

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