Galle, Sri Lanka (Reuters): The idea of scrapping the traditional coin toss prior to test matches has found a “big fan” in South Africa captain Faf du Plessis who believes it would help reduce home advantage and bring more balance.
The International Cricket Council, the world governing body of the sport, discussed the possibility in a meeting in May but decided to continue with what has been a ritual since the first test between Australia and England in 1877. “I’m a big fan of taking away the toss,” du Plessis said after his team were beaten inside three days by Sri Lanka in the opening match of the two-test series on 14 July. “I think even in South Africa you’ll still prepare the conditions the way you prepare them now, but you just make sure that you bring some balance.”
The merit of the toss has been debated as a need to reduce home advantage that often results in host nations rolling out pitches doctored to favour their players in what tends to end up as one-sided encounters. In Galle too, Sri Lanka won the toss and unleashed their spinners who claimed 17 of the 20 South African wickets as the visitors managed only 126 and 73 in their two innings before surrendering on a turning track.
“In home conditions teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little,” du Plessis said. “I think over the last two or three years away-records have definitely gone down, and games are finishing a lot sooner than they used to.”
On a pitch that offered considerable turn and bounce for the slow bowlers, Sri Lanka’s first innings lead of 161 proved decisive as South Africa simply crumbled in the fourth innings on a deteriorating track.
“When I started playing test cricket, 400s and 500s were happening quite regularly,” du Plessis said. “So I’m not just speaking about subcontinent conditions. In South Africa games hardly reach the end of day four anymore. I think that’s one of the ways you can make sure that balance is a little better.”
Former Australia captains Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh have backed a move to scrap the toss, while West Indies pace great Michael Holding also felt it would encourage an even contest between bat and ball.