- The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering scrapping the toss in Test match cricket
- Cricket’s ruling body is looking at ways to stop home teams from gaining an undue home-ground advantage
- This will mean the visiting team has a choice of whether to bat or bowl first
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering scrapping one of the oldest and most traditional features of Test match cricket, the coin toss. The ICC is looking at various ways to improve the longest and oldest format of the game.
As a part of this wholesale review of Test cricket, the ICC wants to find ways to stop home teams from gaining an undue home-ground advantage by manipulating the pitch and thereby gaining an added advantage.
The ICC is said to be concerned by the current level of home-team interference in the preparation of Test match pitches and will discuss the topic when the ICC cricket committee meeting takes place in Mumbai at the end of May.
Briefly.co.za gathered that one solution being touted for at least a trial is giving the visiting side the choice of whether to bat or bowl first.
A similar system has been used in English County Cricket since 2016. Visiting teams in the competition have the choice of whether to bowl first or to revert back to the toss if they are unsure about prevailing conditions.
Former Australian coach Darren Lehman said such a system would improve Test cricket.
Lehman said in recent years Test match pitches tended to be either too dull or dead or to heavily tipped in favour of the home team. He said bad pitches were more likely to harm Test cricket than the rise of T20 cricket.
The committee, which features Shaun Pollock, alongside such veterans of the game as Anil Kumble, Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene, Rahul Dravid, and umpire Richard Kettleborough, will decide on the proposal before the 28-29 May meeting.
In England, the results of the changes seemed positive with 85% of matches going into a fourth day compared to 74% in 2015 – the highest percentage since 2009.
The average score for the first innings was 332, slightly up from 325 in 2015. The average score for the second innings of a match was 343, up from 290 in 2015.
A total of 843 wickets were taken by spin in 2016, up from 752 in 2015.
71 of the 142 matches in both divisions were drawn, discounting two abandoned matches, meaning there was a positive result in the other 71 – whereas in 2015, there were 93 results and only 51 draws.
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