LONDON: Test cricket’s fundamental starting point may be scrapped, as the ICC’s cricket committee prepares to debate whether or not the coin toss should be removed as a way of reducing home ground advantage in the looming Test Championship, reported Cricinfo.
Every single Test match since the very first, between Australia and England at the MCG in March 1877, has begun with a toss of the coin to decide who should bat or bowl first. The home captain flips the coin and the visiting captain calls heads or tails.
However, there has been a growing body of opinion that home boards have manipulated conditions to suit their team, in turn adding a disproportionate level of importance to the toss. The proposed remedy is to abandon the coin toss for matches played as part of the Test Championship, to commence with Australia’s Ashes tour of England in 2019, leaving the visiting side to elect whether to bat or bowl first.
This would be an extension of the playing conditions now used in the English County Championship since the start of the 2016 season, whereby the visiting team can choose to bowl first, with a coin toss to follow if the captain is not fussed. According to briefing notes circulated ahead of the ICC cricket committee meeting at the end of May in Mumbai and seen by ESPNcricinfo:
“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.”
One of the biggest champions of the concept was former Australia coach Darren Lehmann. He will be absent from the meeting as the representative of international coaches after resigning from his post in the wake of the Newlands ball-tampering fiasco. In his 2016 book, Coach, Lehmann was blunt about the scenario facing visiting Test teams.