Kolkata: India’s toughest Test challenge in recent times is on the cards as a visiting Australia are set to take on the number one team under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
As it generally happens before a high profile series, there are a lot of talks as players from both the sides have made their plans ready when they take on the opposition. And, the coach of the Australian team, Darren Lehmann too found himself to be amongst the news when he said that he wanted to do away with the toss, a customary practice before every cricket match.
The Australian coach also said that the toss would not affect the outcome of any of the matches in the upcoming Test series.
Already having expressed his doubts about the toss, the former Aussie southpaw went on to say that the touring side should get the privilege of taking a decision whether to bowl or bat first.
In an interview with the Australian Associated Press, Lehmann said, “We won four tosses last time we were here and lost 4-0,” Lehmann said of the defeats that kickstarted a nine-Test losing streak in the sub-continent.
“You’ve still got to play well if you win a toss,” said Lehmann.
Confirming his stand on the toss, he said, “My views on the toss is that it should just go anyway, that’s the way I’ve always been. Whether you’re here or Australia, it doesn’t matter.”
A proper analysis of this statement by the Australian coach opens up a variety of angles. A closer look actually reveals the fact that he is right when he says that the toss doesn’t determine the outcome of a game. The toss, for that matter is an essential part of many sports. One can win the toss in a football match, choose a wrong end and score a goal.
In tennis, a player can win the toss and still concede a lead. Quite rightly, a mere spin of the coin cannot have a say on the outcome of a match in any sport and one has to, “play well” to win a match. Yes, there have been instances in the past when the captain of a losing side had blamed toss for his side’s defeat, similar to what Lehmann has said, when he indirectly blamed the lost tosses for Australia’s 4-0 loss to India the last time they had toured the nation.
But quality cricket is what counts. What matters at the end of the day is the quality of cricket played, as they say, “The better team always wins.” The entire idea to do away with the toss doesn’t seem to be a feasible one. The toss, a part of the game since its inception, adds that element of luck in the game of cricket. One needs that extra bit of luck (if one wins the toss) going into the game, but again, cannot count totally on it.
Former Australian captain, Ricky Ponting too had once spoken about the toss on the lines of what Lehmann has said. The former World cup winning skipper had said, “Forget the toss of a coin. Simply let the visiting team look at the pitch on every occasion and decide what they want to do,” might inspire groundsmen to prepare sporting wickets (or alternatively, bland ones), but it takes away something from the game.”
This isn’t a plausible suggestion. The pitches in different continents have different characteristics. If a visiting team always has the privilege to decide whether to bat or bowl first, then it automatically pushes back the host nation, mentally. The pitches these days are more or less neutral and it is only poor cricket that leads to a team’s downfall. Under such a situation, the visiting side would actually have a foot ahead of the host and start the match. That element of equality is totally taken away.
This topic becomes an important topic of discussion when it comes to any team touring India. India is known for its slow and turning pitches which the opposition find difficult to play on. But the past is witness to the fact that there have been many teams who have beaten India in India. But there’s still an element of doubt in the minds of the visiting team whenever they tour the sub-continent and now, that doubt is going to be even greater if seen in the context of the Indian performance at home, off-late.
The Australian coach however hoped that they get to play on ‘friendly’ pitches as he said,” “They produce good wickets, so looking forward to good five-day Test (pitches) that deteriorate over five days.”
This entire element of his issues with the toss seems just to be his issues with the Aussie’s weakness against spin bowling.
Playing the Indian spinners on the Indian soil and scoring huge runs would nonetheless, be a daunting task anyday, and for any side. Let’s just hope that this India-Australia clash is fought on equal terms and the pitch doesn’t make the news, for the wrong reasons at the end of the day.
(With inputs from PTI)