Will Doing Away With The Toss Negate Home Team Advantage?The ICC is thinking of doing away with the toss before Test matches, ostensibly to negate home team advantage. It is seen that home teams are increasingly preparing pitches to suit their bowlers. Hence, the ICC feels that to counter that, the visiting captain should have the option of choosing whether to bat first or bowl without leaving it to the toss. The toss was seen as a leveler all things being the same for both the teams, the luck of the toss decides which team gets to use the conditions to its liking first. But with home teams already gaining advantage through tailor-made pitches, administrators feel that the other team should be given an equal opportunity.
By Sunil Garodia
But the pitch is not the only advantage that the home team enjoys. There are weather conditions, crowds and hospitality that often work in the favour of the home teams. For instance, the chill and wind in England in June and July is quite alien to other teams. So is the huge and raucous crowd in the Indian sub-continent. Visiting teams have often complained about hotel rooms and food in India. The cricketing centres are also spread far and wide in India, entailing a lot of travel that takes its own toll. Since home team players are used to this, is it not an advantage for them? Similarly, when Indians go to England and play in inners and a few pullovers but are still shivering, is it not a disadvantage for them?
The toss is just being made a scapegoat. Obviously, things can only be made same for both teams if Test matches are held at neutral venues, not familiar to both countries. For instance, India plays England in Australia and England plays Australia in India. But that is obviously a far-fetched remedy. The best way to ensure that the home team does not get an advantage by preparing pitches according to its own wish is to introduce a panel of neutral curators from around the world, as suggested by Dilip Vengsarkar. This panel will be like the umpires or match referees panel. Curators from this panel will roam the world and prepare standardized pitches as per the soil of the country with the help of local curators.
pic courtesy: Science ABC