South Africa v Zimbabwe T20 - Men's

Proteas employ 'specialist coin tosser'

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis took the unusual step of getting a teammate to flip the coin for him

Dave Middleton

14 October 2018, 01:47 PM

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has taken cricketing superstition to new heights, employing the game's first "specialist coin tosser"

Du Plessis had not won a coin toss in any format since South Africa's Test against Australia in Johannesburg in March, going six matches on the bounce without getting the opportunity to choose what his side would do first.

That stretch included two Tests and three ODIs against Sri Lanka, where he called wrong on every occasion, and was on the wrong end of the toss again when returning to the national side for the third ODI against Zimbabwe in Paarl.

During a stint out of the side, JP Duminy had lead the team, winning the coin toss for a one-off T20 against Sri Lanka, and coming up trumps in the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe.

So when the Proteas' T20s against Zimbabwe rolled around, du Plessis had had enough, and roped in Duminy to flick the coin for him.

Duminy, who wasn't even in the playing XI for that first match in East London, duly did the honours and spun a tail as Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza called 'heads'.

"They say the strength of a captain is to know his weaknesses, so I brought in JP Duminy as a specialist coin tosser," du Plessis said after opting to bat in a match his side won comfortably.

Captain's coin toss antics in Cape Town

He later wrote on social media: "I love what I do, important to have some fun along the way as well, especially in t20 cricket!! Might have started something here..."

It's an unorthodox ploy, and an interesting interpretation of the ICC's playing conditions, but there's nothing in the games regulations or Laws that expressly prohibits the captain handing off the coin toss.

The ICC's playing regulations mandate the time of the coin toss, and that is has to be done on the field of play and under the supervision of the ICC Match Referee, but they also allow for a deputy to act for the captain if they are "not available".

Meg Lanning's unorthodox coin toss technique // Getty
Meg Lanning's unorthodox coin toss technique // Getty

Du Plessis choosing to make himself "not available" isn't technically illegal, and the Proteas ploy could soon be seen in action elsewhere after attracting the attention of Australia captain Meg Lanning.

With a notoriously poor record at the coin toss, Lanning cottoned on to the ploy after seeing Du Plessis' social media post, and was quick to tag teammate Alyssa Healy.

"I wish I’d known this was allowed a long time ago... You’ve got the job!" she wrote to Healy.

For the record, du Plessis has won 39 coin tosses – including the one Duminy flipped for him – and lost 40.