Test matches have always been looked up as the “real challenge” in the history of cricket. The beauty of test cricket is it’s chess like nature which can vary session after session. But, lately Tests have largely gone in favor of host nations by a country mile. In the last ten years, the away teams have won just 109 matches out of a total of a staggering 404 matches.
It is understood by all that the Host nation will always try to curate a wicket which will benefit them over the visitors. If it’s the subcontinent we’ll witness more rough, which makes the ball turn and bounce viciously, In South Africa and Australia – the players will have to adapt to the cracks present on the wickets that assist the pacers with its invariable bounce, and in England we get to see a hint of grass under overcast conditions which leads to swing and movement off the wicket.
Each Test playing nation have their own set of armory intact when we talk about “home conditions.”
So, to re-ensure balance in Test cricket, a lot of cricketers who are currently playing, as well as former greats have been having their opinions against the idea of a coin toss from test cricket.
South African captain Faf Du Plesis after facing a heavy series defeat against a not so formidable Sri Lankan team, expressed his desire to not have a coin toss as he’s a “big fan of taking it away from tests.”
After getting bundled out for just 73 runs in the first innings of the first test he had much more to say: “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. In home conditions, teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little."
Former Australian captain and legend Alan Border has also come out in the open and has been in denial of a coin toss in Tests. “I’m in the camp for no toss and letting the visiting side decide,”
“It shouldn’t play such an important role in the game but it has become that way. All visiting sides feel like they get stitched up by pitch preparation.” He told in a recent interview.
We’ve also had the great Australian wicket keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist share some light in this conundrum. Gilly unlike the other experts went in favor of the coin toss, as getting rid of it would be disrespecting the traditions of the gentleman’s game.
“I think we’re just going through a phase where teams aren’t as good overseas and then it goes in fits and spurts,” he said.
“Another era will turn up and dominate overseas. I just think; do we have to change everything about history?”
He further backed it up by stating it’s the individual skillset that the players need to be working on rather than snubbing a toss, recent tours of Australia and England to India which happened not so long ago gave us a better insight of things.
“Australia and England on their last tours to India – out of eight (nine) Test matches, six (seven) tosses were won by the touring team and as you do in India you bat first, and they both lost three out of the four games,” Gilchrist said. England went down 4-0 in its five Test tour.
“Sri Lanka plays their home conditions well. We’ve got to not worry about that and sharpen up on better upskilling and go over there and be better in those conditions,” said the three time World cup winner.
Adam Gilchrist was the part of the best cricketing teams in generations and clinched a series win only once in 2004 by 2-1 after 35 years of waiting.
Gilly’s Australian era held the record of 16 wins in a row, which is a landmark achievement for any even to this very day, but it was the series win away from home against India that is still considered as something which added more value to him and to that collective bunch of Aussie players. Here’s what he had to say.
“That was a lot of preparation and experience gained from losing tours there previously and it was a collective unit of preparation for a number of years to finally crack the nut over there.
“Twice that era I played in 16 Test match wins in a row and I’m not sure that’s going to be beaten for a long time, if at all, but in amongst those two achievements, winning there for that group collectively was the pinnacle I think.”
In May, the ICC cricket committee advised the retention of the coin toss, arguing “it was an integral part of Test cricket which forms part of the narrative of the game.”
In spite of the decision made by the Board, the debate goes on. Will we in the near future witness test matches without a toss to balnce things out, or will we get to see a more adaptable set of players with and upgrade in ability to take on the challenges of red ball cricket away from home, which will make victory look hard earned but also sweet.
About the Author
Comes from the United Arab Emirates, is a sports junkie and a journalist, who has been following cricket as well as football since childhood. Played cricket in academies, school, and university levels. A fanatic follower of one of Europe's biggest ever football clubs - Manchester United.