Visitors' choice as coin toss is put in peril

London: Next year's Ashes may be the high-profile guinea-pig series if a proposal is agreed to ditch the coin toss for all matches in the International Cricket Council's new Test championship.

Briefing notes for an ICC committee meeting at the end of this month indicate time may be up for the toss in the majority of Tests to help address concerns about exaggerated home advantage.

Former PM John Howard tosses the coin before a match.

The age-old spectacle of captains tossing up and calling heads or tails is a pre-match staple on the first morning of Tests, and has been throughout the format's near 150-year history.

But depending on the deliberations of the ICC's cricket committee in Mumbai, it may be sacrificed in time for the Ashes, which is due to be the starting point for matches which will count towards the inaugural Test championship.

Instead, the visiting captain would simply be given the option of whether to bat or bowl first – depending on his reading of conditions – although it is understood the change will not pertain to bilateral series outside the Test championship.

Cricinfo published content on Thursday from a "briefing note circulated before the ICC cricket committee meeting".

It reads: "There is serious concern about the current level of home team interference in Test pitch preparation, and more than one committee member believes that the toss should be automatically awarded to the visiting team in each match – although there are some others on the committee who do not share that view."

The toss has already become optional in first-class county matches in England, where the visiting captain can opt to bowl first if he wishes – but if he would prefer to bat, must still rely on the way the coin lands.


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