At the start of every cricket game the opposing captains meet and toss a coin to decide who will bat or bowl first. A tradition which adds a random element to the game also frustrates many a Captain when they loose it.
For the international matches, especially Test Matches with all the flags, maybe a children's choir, the captains in their blazers all captured by the host media; it makes for a good little spectacle. The coin is tossed and the opposition captain calls heads or tails the winner makes a decision and then the game can begin.
Unfortunately, as was the case in Pune, winning the toss can be winning the game.
Uncle Boof's no flipping solution
Before the current Test Series in India had even started Australian Cricket Coach Darren Lehman suggested a solution to questionable pitches. Remove the toss all together. Lehaman's argument is that by giving the opposing team's captain the decision to choose first will change the doctoring of pitches.
And, if you are an Australian who sees nothing but a conspiracy with English and Indian pitches such an idea has merit. Also if this is true you are being a bit myopic. Because wickets in Australia have been doctored too. The no-toss Lehman plan would make for less Pune type wickets, along with those roads found in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
What no-toss creates is a case of “One cuts, the other chooses”. Its logic my Mother used to stop quarrels when there was only one piece of cake between my sister and I. Picture the six year old me holding the knife as deftly as I could to make sure the cut was as exact as possible. I suspect this is response that Lehman is hoping to see from all the test playing nations. No more would there be a mathematical chance that the home team would win the toss allowing them first and best use of the conditions.
As in life, traditions in Cricket take a long time to pass away. This makes Darren Lehman's call for the toss to be abandoned merely a first step in a very long campaign. The “one cuts, the other chooses” analogy from my childhood gives me enough confidence that it could work; for international games that is. If accepted it could deter explosive pitches like Pune, green tops in Sydney, or a WACA pitch with canyon cracks.
There will always be a level of uniqueness (we hope) at each ground just not the impossible any more because of two reasons. One the opposition is choosing which cut of the cake they want. Two all the other nations are watching to see what you have done. The toss negates that level of audacity we saw at Pune. But there are limits to this?
Limits to An Untested Theory
Lehman's no-toss in comparison may work for first class and test matches only due to the scrutiny these matches are under. Scrutiny that requires power behind it. Like when child who knows they can force their will on a lesser sibling, those who think they can take any advantage to win will. Lamentably we have seen some very childish acts from the adults playing at Bangaluru. These adults were in the international spotlight; what will happen with a when “one cuts, the other chooses” starts in local cricket?
We have all played in a game where for some reason the field is not mowed till the second day of a two day game. Or, that somehow the covers have not been put on during rain. You may know of a few others too. The best one I heard of was of a large block of ice being put just short of a length at one end on the Saturday night for Sunday's second day in a grand final. Who is to say what else could be thought of to create an advantage from the no-toss system?
Lehman's proposal is not flawed, just untested. There needs to be a series of matches where the nations decide to accept this system and over time we will see if “one cuts, the other chooses” will work or not. If India won the toss in Pune I doubt the Australian team would have won at all. By gambling on the toss India still had a better chance to win at Pune than no toss at all. Just do not hold your breath; traditions are hard to change.
Phill Hall plays club cricket in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. His 2016/17 batting average was 8.60 with highest score of 22 off 37 overs. Which is great for a leg spinner. When not playing cricket Phill tries to complete his post graduate studies in theology under the University of Divinity.
Phil Hall's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/phil-hall.html
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.