Risking it on one turn of pitch-and-toss

Once again we have sports administrators tampering with the traditions of a game, simply because they are unable to either make or back up decisions.

It was announced in the last few days that the mandatory coin toss is to be scrapped in the English County Cricket Championship next season, according to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The change is effective in both divisions of the competition and aims to encourage better pitches for four-day cricket.

An ECB statement read: “The visiting captain will be offered the opportunity of bowling first. If he declines, the toss will take place as normal. But if he accepts, there will be no toss.”

The recommendation came from the ECB’s cricket committee, which included the ECB’s chief executive Tom Harrison, England team director Andrew Strauss and former England coach Andy Flower. How long did it take for them to come up with this one?

Cricket employs match referees to make sure that the game ruins according to plan and that there are no unsavoury incidents, if there are the match referee is there to act.

As has been debated now for over ten years why is this individual, who is nearly always a former top class player, given the power to assess the wicket and if it does not meet the required standard the host County, State or country receives a financial penalty? Surely this would make far more sense than taking away the coin toss and pushing the visiting team into bowling first.

Back in the late 1980’s and 1990’s Nottinghamshire were renowned for preparing wickets on which the ball would seam, the reason was they had two of the best exponents of the art, in Sir Richard Hadlee and the late Clive Rice. It ensured trophies were a regular thing at Trent Bridge in that era.

Preparing wickets to suit the home sides strengths have been around for a long time. Many will say there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is having pitches that offer absolutely nothing to a bowler. The game is after all supposed to be a battle between bat and ball. Sadly few international bowlers have the guile these days to out wit a batsman, but then again they are given pitches that either do not turn or on which the ball does not seam.

The English and Wales Cricket Board’s specially set up committee’s chairman, Peter Wright, said that this was only a trial and a decision on whether to extend the trial would be taken at the end of the 2016 season.

Wright also explained that the decision was partly motivated about concern over the development of English spin bowlers.

Again one has to wonder whether this will help such players develop. Surely simply telling the groundsmen that they must create a decent cricket wicket that results in a battle between bat and ball would be a far more direct and uncomplicated approach?

Why do the traditions that have stood the test of time have to be thorn away because of a lack of governance and a fear of making hard and strong decisions for the good of the game? If the Board of the English and Wales Cricket Board had any sense they would throw everyone of the members of this committee out on their ear and tell them not to come back!

Risking it on one turn of pitch-and-toss

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