CHENNAI: Toss in Tests may be a thing of the past, as the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee meets in Mumbai on May 28 and 29 to chalk out playing conditions for the Test Championship beginning in August next year. The proposal to do away with the flip of the coin was discussed at last month’s ICC annual meeting in Kolkata. At that time, Anil Kumble — a part of the committee — had said there was no consensus.
It is understood that the committee comprising ICC CEO Dave Richardson, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, Andrew Strauss, Shaun Pollock and Ranjan Madugalle among others had strongly advocated the radical step, citing examples where teams took home advantage too far by rolling out pitches to suit their strengths. But those talks were muted because for any proposal to be approved, the ICC board has to clear it.
However, the committee seems to have got some encouragement from the Kolkata meeting, where the Future Tours Programme was approved. A highly-placed ICC official revealed that if the toss is scrapped, there is a possibility that pitches won’t be doctored. “Home advantage has been a grey area, especially when it comes to turning tracks. More often than not, ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ ratings are given to turning pitches rather than seaming ones. It was a never-ending debate and the committee, which includes match referees, felt taking the toss out of equation would ensure a level-playing field,” the official told Express.
With the Test Championship to be held under the world body’s banner, pitch preparation will be overseen by ICC supervisors. But with the Championship spanning 10 countries, this process demands more resources, which the official stated would be difficult to manage. “The other advantage of doing away with the toss is it puts less pressure on curators. The match referees have indicated how some curators come under pressure from home teams to serve a pitch of their liking. Johannesburg (SA vs India) was a case in point. We can’t afford such things in the Test Championship. You need to give a fair advantage to the visiting teams as well. This might seem radical, but you need to keep evolving with time,” the official, privy to developments, added.
With regards to the points system, there seems to be confusion. While the plan is to award points per match, not all teams will play two-Test series. Some may play more. “That is the biggest deliberation. Some are two-match series, while the Ashes has five. If we keep a uniform points system, it might make some Tests inconsequential. We need to strike a balance,” the official said.The Test Championship is also likely to accommodate Day/Night Tests, with the host country having the right to choose. Though the current system involves approval of both teams, it might not be mandatory in the Championship.