ICC panel decides not to drop toss in Tests, tighten tampering laws
The International Cricket Council’s Cricket Committee has decided not to do away with the toss, in a crucial decision taken at its two-day meeting in Mumbai that ended on Tuesday.
The Cricket Committee, headed by former India skipper Anil Kumble, considered the issue that has been debated in a bid to nullify home teams preparing pitches that overwhelmingly work in their favour.
“The Committee discussed whether the toss should be automatically awarded to the visiting team but felt that it was an integral part of Test cricket which forms part of the narrative of the game,” the ICC statement said after the meeting.
“However, in acknowledging that the preparation of Test pitches that could provide a risk to the competitiveness of the ICC World Test Championship, the Committee 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.”
One suggestion was to give the visiting skipper the option to decide. A ‘yes’ vote would have led to abolishing one of the integral aspects of Test cricket since it began in 1877.
However, it had been acknowledged that there would be opposition to abolishing the toss, especially because the drama around it was a big draw for broadcasters.
With the ICC Test Championship to kick off with the 2019 Ashes series between England and Australia, the panel has recommended a points system for the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee to consider.
“Based on the principle of simplicity and every match needing to count, the committee recommended that points should only be awarded for each match and not a series win. As part of this, it was proposed that there was a draw-win ratio of 0.33:1, so a draw gives each team a third of the available points.”
The panel proposed a rest day for the championship final, to be staged at Lord’s in 2023, to compensate for any time lost due to bad weather.
TIGHTENING TAMPERING LAW
The panel has recommended more stringent punishment for ball-tampering, without giving details.
The issue flared up after Australia’s Cameron Bancroft was caught in the act during the Cape Town Test against South Africa in March. Cricket Australia banned skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner for a year and Bancroft for nine months.
The ICC Match Referee had handed Smith a one-match suspension and docked his entire match fee following his admission he was party to the decision to “alter the condition of the ball”. Bancroft was fined 75 percent of his match fee and docked three demerit points for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct.
The panel has backed creating new rules to punish “offensive, personal, insulting, offensive or orchestrated abuse” and wants a Code of Respect to be put in place.