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To toss or not? ICC cricket committee to discuss at meeting this month

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By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: May 17, 2018 3:38:08 pm

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The toss of coin has been a part of international cricket since the very first Test, between England and Australia in 1877. (Source: File)

Should international cricket ‘toss away’ the toss to ensure an even playing field? The relevance or rather the fairness of the tradition, which is as old as the game itself, will be up for discussion at the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee meeting scheduled on May 28 and 29 in Mumbai “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,” ‘ESPNCricinfo’ reported today.

The toss of coin has been a part of international cricket since the very first Test, between England and Australia in 1877 to decide which of the two competing teams get to bowl or bat first. The coin is flipped by the home captain and the call is made by the visiting skipper. But its relevance has been questioned in recent past with critics saying that the practice was resulting in unfair advantage to host teams.

“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 website quoted a letter, which has been sent to all the panel members, as saying.

The toss was done away with in the 2016 County Championships and even in India, there was a proposal to get rid of the norm in the domestic circuit but it was shot down. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had claimed that matches lasted longer due to the move and led to a more even contest between bat and ball.

The ICC cricket committee features former India captain and coach Anil Kumble, Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene, Rahul Dravid, Tim May, the New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White, the umpire Richard Kettleborough, ICC match referees chief Ranjan Madugalle, Shaun Pollock and Clare Connor.

The position of coaches’ representative is currently lying vacant in the panel after incumbent Darren Lehmann was ruled out owing to his resignation as Australia coach in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal. The critics of toss such as West Indian great Michael Holding and former Australian skipper Steve Waugh believe that it encourages home teams to make pitches of their liking, putting visiting sides at a disadvantage.

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