Magellan Ashes 2017-18

Smith needing his luck to flip in Perth

Australia's skipper is on a four-match losing streak at the coin toss, and has never led the hosts to a Test win at the WACA

Cricket Network

08 December 2017, 01:14 PM

He averages 60 as a batsman but it seems the law of averages aren't doing Steve Smith any favours when it comes to winning Test match tosses.

The Australia captain is zero from two against England rival Joe Root at the toss so far this Magellan Ashes series, continuing a dismal run, though the reverse series scorecard reflects the sentiment of one of Smith's predecessors, Steve Waugh: it doesn't matter what happens at the toss – it matters what happens after it.

Nonetheless, it will never be known how things would have played out in Adelaide had Root not opted to bowl first – a decision that drew considerable backlash from a host of former players from either side of the Ashes divide.

"He doesn't (win them)," head coach Darren Lehmann said with a grin on 5AA on Thursday. "He's hopeless.

"We don't even try and worry about what we want to do because we know the opposition are going to decide anyway! He'll win a toss somewhere."

Adelaide was the fourth toss in succession that Smith has found himself on the wrong side of the coin, and the 12th time in his past 17 Tests, dating back to the beginning of Australia's 0-3 series defeat in Sri Lanka last year.

I didn't think it would happen this soon: Marsh

After touring the island nation, Smith lost all three tosses to South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis in a 1-2 series defeat at home, before finally breaking his sequence of six straight losses with a win in Brisbane against Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq.

It began a change of fortune for the Australian, who went on to win two out of three tosses against Pakistan, then three out of four in India against Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.

But the skipper now finds himself on another lean run, though he is still three shy of the national record of seven straight coin toss defeats suffered by Joe Darling from 1899-1902.

Darling also lost five consecutive coin tosses on the 1905 Ashes tour, but Smith is unlikely to take a leaf out the former skipper's book, who famously challenged rival skipper Stanley Jackson to a wrestling match in lieu of a coin toss.

The 27-year-old current captain has a long way to go before he equals former England captain's Nasser Hussain record streak of 10 consecutive toss losses.

Smith might soon be singing from the same song sheet as Lehmann, who is one of many high-profile cricket figures calling for the toss to be scrapped in Tests.

Concerned about the quality of county pitches being produced, the England and Wales Cricket Board rolled out a rule last year that gave the visiting side an option of bowling first if they wished. The toss still took place if both sides wanted to bat first.

Day wrap: Australia storm to 2-0 series lead

"Do away with the toss, with the visiting side given the option of whether they want to bat or bowl," Lehmann wrote in his autobiography, Coach.

"That way, the result is not decided by the toss of the coin; host boards have a greater incentive to produce decent pitches that are fair to both sides.

"Surfaces are either far too bland or, conversely, are far too heavily weighted in favour of the home side. In both instances, that does Test cricket no good at all.

"On the other hand, no-one wants to see 600 plays 500 on pitches that offer the bowlers nothing."

Smith will be hopeful of some luck in Perth when the third Test begins next Thursday on what is expected to be a batsman-friendly track.

The New South Welshman has captained Australia at the WACA Ground twice, for one win and one loss at the toss, but is yet to win a Test there in charge, after a drawn affair against New Zealand in 2015, and defeat last year to the Proteas. It is the only ground in Australia on which Smith has failed to win as skipper. 

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21