Item in Daily News, 31 May 2018: “Toss survives test of time”
MUMBAI: The toss will remain the fundamental starting point of a Test match. The Anil Kumble-led Cricket Committee of the ICC on Tuesday decided against abolishing the spin of coin in the game’s traditional format, calling it an “integral part of the narrative”. The International Cricket Council (ICC) was mulling doing away with the flip of the coin during the World Test Championship scheduled to start from July 2019 as part of measures to boost the flagging fortunes of the long format.
The ICC cricket committee chaired by Indian spin legend Anil Kumble debated the toss among other issues such as player behaviour during their two-day meeting in Mumbai. “The committee discussed whether the toss should be automatically awarded to the visiting team but felt that it was an integral part of Test cricket which forms part of the narrative of the game,” the ICC said in a statement.
It also focused on improving player behaviour and upholding the spirit of the game which has been hit by a recent ball-tampering scandal.
The ICC was criticised after it banned Australia skipper Steve Smith for only one Test over his role in the scandal in South Africa in March in which batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught trying to alter the ball.
After a wave of public anger, Cricket Australia later banned Smith and his deputy David Warner for 12 months. Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension.
“The group felt that excessive personal abuse and ball tampering were serious offences in the game and that should be reflected in the way in which they are dealt with,” Kumble was quoted as saying in the release.
“There was also strong support for giving the match officials more authority and subsequently greater support around their decision making,” the former leg-spinner added.
The committee has made a series of recommendations to be shared with the chief executives’ committee in June before final ratification by the ICC board.
Focus on quality pitches
However, the committee, also comprising former international captains such as Mike Gatting, Mahela Jayawardene, current international coach Mike Hesson (New Zealand) and former Australia opener and match referee David Boon, agreed that host nations should prepare quality pitches keeping the World Test Championship in mind. “Acknowledging that the preparation of Test pitches that could provide a risk to the competitiveness of the ICC World Test Championship, the Committee urged Members to continue to focus on the delivery of pitches that provide a better balance between bat and ball in line with ICC regulations.” The abolition of toss became a contentious issue as most of the former players and stakeholders termed it a negative step.
Tougher sanctions for ball tampering
The bulk of the time over the last two days was spent in discussing poor players’ behaviour that has plagued the game for quite some time along with issues like ball tampering, which saw Australia’s captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner being suspended for one year due to their involvement in the scandal in South Africa.
Kumble said: “We had an excellent discussion around the issue of player behavior and I’d like to thank Mike Gatting and David Boon for joining us and making valuable contributions.”
“The Committee echoed the sentiments of the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee and the ICC Board, and, as such, we have made a series of recommendations as part of the creation of a culture of respect we can all adhere.”
Some of the suggestions with regards to Code of Conduct include:
1) Raising the sanctions associated with ball tampering.
2) Creating a new offence for offensive, personal, insulting, offensive or orchestrated abuse
3) The consideration of the introduction of a new offence of attempting to gain an unfair advantage
4) Creating a Code of Respect
5) Match referee to have the authority to downgrade or upgrade a level of offence or sanction.
For someone who has played the game with integrity and respect for the opposition, Kumble was concerned about “excessive” personal abuse.
“The group felt that excessive personal abuse and ball tampering were serious offences in the game and that should be reflected in the way in which they are dealt with. There was also strong support for giving the match officials more authority and subsequently greater support around their decision making,” Kumble said.
Change in points system
The committee also recommended a change in points system to the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee. The committee recommended that points should only be awarded for each match and not a series win.
It was proposed that there was a draw-win ratio of 0.33:1, so a draw gives each team a third of the available points. For example: if three points are awarded for a win, a team will get a point for a draw.
It was also agreed to propose a reserve day for the ICC World Test Championship final to enable any time lost through bad weather to be made up.
A NOTE: Shane Warne has been a strong advocate for doing way with the toss and giving the right to decide to the visiting touring team.