It looks like the International Council of Cricket (ICC) is leaving no stone unturned in order to save the existence of test cricket in future. From the launch of pink day-night tests to the latest thought of scrapping the most fundamental start of a test game (toss), ICC is determined to make more and more changes which can shoot up the decreasing popularity of test cricket.
The toss in which the coin is flipped to decide which team would get to choose whether they want to bat first or bowl has been a part of cricket since the very first test match. The host team’s captain flips the coin and the visiting captain makes the call.
It’s relevance though has been doubtful in recent years. Criticism has come from cricketers as well. West Indian great Michael Holding and former Australian skipper Steve Waugh believe that it is a disadvantage to the visiting team as the home team prepares a pitch of their liking which suits them.
The new system of decision:
The ICC is proposing that the visiting team should be directly given the option of choosing to bat or bowl rather than a toss which would certainly give more advantage to the home team.
According to the letter which has been sent to all the panel members –“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”.
Darren Lehmann, the former Australian coach who resigned after the sandpapergate, has supported this new rule previously. In his 2016 book, Coach, Lehmann criticised the toss rule openly. As per him, “The biggest challenge to the longest format, for me at least, comes not from Twenty20 but from the surfaces on which matches are being played,” Lehmann wrote.
No one wants to see 600 plays 500 on pitches that offer the bowlers nothing.
He even proposed the same solution which the ICC is considering, after two years of his book release, “My solution to ensure the best possible pitches is, at international level, to do away with the toss, with the visiting side given the option of whether they want to bat or bowl. That way the result is not decided by the toss of the coin, host boards have a greater incentive to produce decent pitches that are fair to both sides and the chances are that after five days the better side – rather than the one that has called correctly and thus been able to take advantage of favourable conditions – is the one what will come out on top.”
Tried and tested move:
This new rule has previously been implemented during the 2016 County Championships. It was even proposed in India but was shot down. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had claimed that matches lasted longer due to the move and led to more even contests.
There is going to be serious debates and discussion for the same between the current ICC committee members, including the former India captain and coach Anil Kumble, Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene, Rahul Dravid, etc., and it has to be agreed in a majority for its implementation.
Change is the rule of life and it totally applies to the great game of cricket as well. This new rule would certainly bring more fairness to the game as the home team certainly has more advantage of playing in their conditions. This new rule would provide the visiting team a great chance to compete at a foreign pitch. So even if the home team decides to alter pitches as per their strengths, the visiting team would evenly get a fair chance to decide whether to bat or bowl according to the conditions.
Anything which brings a fresh change and makes the game more even for both the visiting and home team is always welcome. We have a fair amount of time for a trial implementation for this “no-toss” rule before the start of the first-ever World Test Championship, which gets underway next year and runs through until 2021.