Sri Lanka v South Africa Test - Men's
Du Plessis calls for toss to be scrapped
Proteas skipper indicates pre-series conditions in Sri Lanka did not adequately prepare his side for Test series
15 July 2018, 05:06 PM AEST
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has become the latest prominent name in cricket to call for the toss to be scrapped from Test cricket.
Speaking after his side's record-breaking defeat to Sri Lanka in Galle, du Plessis says removing the coin toss before the match and allowing the away side to choose whether to bat or bowl first will help quell the dominance of the home team.
"I'm a big fan of taking away the toss," he said after the Proteas were bowled out for just 73, their lowest Test score since re-admission, in the second innings in Galle.
"I think even in South Africa you'll still prepare the conditions the way you prepare them now, but you just make sure that you bring some balance. In home conditions, teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little.
"I think over the last two or three years, away records have definitely gone down, and games are finishing a lot sooner than they used to.
"When I started playing Test cricket, (scores of) 400s and 500s were happening quite regularly.
"So I'm not just speaking about subcontinent conditions. In South Africa, games hardly reach the end of day four anymore.
"I think that's one of the ways you can make sure that balance is a little better."
In May, the world governing body's influential Cricket Committee recommended against scraping the toss following calls from greats like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Michael Holding to consider the move.
Those who believe in the change argue it could help encourage an even contest between bat and ball and lessen a perception that home advantage has become too great due to the preparation of favourable pitches.
But the Cricket Committee described the toss as "an integral part of Test cricket which forms part of the narrative of the game", although they also "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".
England administrators decided three years ago to do away with the toss in the County Championship matches if the visiting team wants to bowl first. But the toss hasn’t been scrapped completely from four-day cricket; if the away captain believes conditions don’t suit bowling first, then the familiar flick of the coin will proceed as normal.
Another of the Cricket Committee's recommendations in May was to call for an improvement of training facilities and conditions provided to visiting teams in order to produce a fairer contest.
The committee, chaired by former India Test bowler and coach Anil Kumble, identified "clear expectations for the treatment of visiting teams particularly around practice facilities, warm-up matches and logistical arrangements" among items it claimed needed to be addressed.
While details of warm-up games and facilities remain the domain of the host administration, there is a feeling that visitors are currently not being afforded the best opportunities to acclimatise.
And it appears that has continued for the Proteas in Sri Lanka, and du Plessis indicated it was something his side should do in return.
"We played a warm-up game in Colombo which was on a flat wicket - it didn't spin," he said.
"So you have to give credit to Sri Lanka for doing that well. That's some learning in that to take when we're playing in South Africa.
"The nets that we've been playing in haven't been spinning at all. So we could have even come a month earlier but if you're practicing on facilities that don't spin, you're not going to get what you get out there (in the Tests)."