May 18, 2018 / 7:52 AM / 7 days ago

Cricket: Former captains flip out over plans to scrap coin toss

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Proposals to scrap the time-honoured tradition of a coin toss prior to test matches defy logic and should not be considered, according to several former South Asian cricket captains.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Ashes test match - Australia v England - SCG, Sydney, Australia, January 4, 2018. England's Joe Root watches as Australia's captain Steve Smith tosses the coin before the start of the first day of the fifth Ashes cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

A ritual since the first test between Australia and England in 1877 risks extinction when the Cricket Committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) meet in Mumbai later this month to discuss the issue.

Debating the merit of toss has arisen as a need to reduce ‘home advantage’ that often results in host nations rolling out pitches doctored to favour their players in what tend to end up as one-sided encounters.

ESPNcricinfo reported the briefing notes circulated ahead of the May 28-29 meeting mention that more than one committee member believed a visiting captain should be free to decided whether to bat or bowl without the need of a coin toss.

“I’m actually at a loss to make any sense,” former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi told Times of India newspaper.

“First of all, why would you even want to tinker with a century-long tradition?” the spin great asked.

Bedi’s former team mate Dilip Vengsarkar admitted he was becoming dismayed by the frequent tinkering with playing conditions.

“If this is only about home team’s interference in pitch preparation then just introduce neutral curators,” the former test batsman told the same newspaper.

“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?”

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.

Former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal, however, is opposed to the idea which, he fears, would take excitement out of the game.

“I am not in favour of scrapping the toss,” the 58-test veteran told Dawn newspaper.

“Every visiting team will also be hosting tours and be having the home advantage. To be the best and top team in the world ranking you need to win both at home and more importantly away from home.”

The “elements of surprise, doubts and knowledge” would be taken away if the toss was discontinued, according to Iqbal.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien

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