Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly during a coin toss Image: Twitter
The times are changing, and so is cricket. The age-old 'gentleman's game' has seen some radical changes over the last two decades — some welcomed with open arms and others...controversial at best. For instance, the England Cricket Board (ECB) recently proposed a 100-ball format, which was scoffed at by many. Then the International Cricket Council (ICC) scrapped the Champions Trophy, replacing it with a World T20 tournament. Plus, pink-ball cricket is already a subject of vehement debates in cricketing circles.
And now, on May 28 and 29, the ICC will debate over the relevance of the coin toss in Test cricket at its cricket committee meeting in Mumbai.
According to a report in ESPNCricinfo, there is a huge possibility that the oldest ritual in cricket might be done away with. “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,” the report says.
The relevance of the toss has been questioned in the recent past as most critics have said that it serves as a disadvantage to the visiting team, which comes across as unfair.
According to reports, scrapping the toss is being mulled over for the upcoming Test Championship starting in 2019.
The ICC has reportedly sent out a letter to all panel members, which reads, "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."
Many cricketers, Darren Lehman, Michael Holding, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, have already publicly opined that the toss should be done away with.
“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,” Lehmann wrote in his book, Coach.
Back in 2015, former Aussie captain, Steve Waugh said, “At the end of the day I think there’s probably too much emphasis placed on the toss and the conditions away from home. I don’t mind the authorities looking at some other options.”
But this development isn’t being welcomed by veteran cricketers Bishan Singh Bedi and Dilip Vengsarkar.
“Do away with the toss and? You know what… I really don’t understand this. I’m actually at a loss to make any sense. First of all, why would you even want to tinker with a century-long tradition?” Bedi was quoted as saying in a report in The Times of India.
Vengsarkar, too, wasn’t in the mood to welcome this change. “As it is, a lot of interfering has already happened with the game of cricket, in terms of how it was played and where things stand today. Why not leave alone some things that have stood the test of time?” an irate Vengsarkar said.