MUMBAI: A newly-formed committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC), one that includes ex-international cricketers and coaches, elite panel umpires and match-referees, is keen on debating the idea of doing away with the ‘toss’ in Test cricket.
In doing so, the game’s global governing body clearly doesn’t mind fiddling with a 140-year old tradition of the game, all in the name of protecting the five-day format’s following, even if it finds it coming at the cost of Test cricket’s sanctity.
With the introduction of the proposed Test championship in the new Future Tours Program (FTP) cycle starting post 2019 ICC World Cup, the committee – headed by former India captain Anil Kumble – will debate whether or not the toss should be removed in an attempt to reduce “home advantage” held by the host team.
A brief note circulated ahead of the ICC’s cricket committee meeting suggests the following: “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.”
Someone like former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi would only like to “thank” the members who don’t find the idea of dismissing the toss altogether a sensible thing to do. “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 told TOI upon hearing the ICC committee’s novel idea.
Former Test batsman Dilip Vengsarkar, in fact, went a step further, saying: “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?”
Vengsarkar further added: “If this is only about home team’s interference in pitch preparation then just introduce neutral curators. No? Have a panel of neutral curators just the way the ICC has an elite panel of umpires and match-referees. Why do away with a tradition that just not adds to the charm of cricket but gives both participating teams an equal opportunity to rise to the contest?”
As per what the ICC’s cricket committee members like to suggest, winning the toss allows a home team to take a call based on conditions familiar to them and helps them wrest an early initiative in the game, thereby running the risk of making the remaining contest relatively redundant.
If a home team has a good batting side suiting the conditions, it wins the toss and bats first, then the visiting team also has an equal opportunity to match up to the opposition. “That’s what the toss does, provides both sides an equal opportunity and that’s the challenge that Test cricket offers,” said Vengsarkar.
The ICC committee will meet in Mumbai on May 28 & 29 to further debate on this aspect alongside other things.
‘D/N Test will be host board’s choice’
Once the ICC’s new Test championship begins with the new Future Tours Program (FTP) cycle beginning 2019, the visiting team may not have a say in the hosting of a Day-Night Test. A discussion on these lines is expected when the cricket committee of the ICC meets in Mumbai on May 28 and 29. The BCCI and the Indian team management had recently said ‘no’ to Cricket Australia’s (CA) request for a Day & Night Test in Adelaide when India tour Down Under in November this year.
Under the new regulations waiting to be discussed, the decision to host a D/N Test will be at the discretion of the home board. The agreement of the touring team will be required only if the host board wants to play more than one D/N game in a series.