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Confusion over toss lends edge to series

Six matches. Scores even. The series poised for a gripping finish and made even more absorbing by a controversy over the toss in the last India-West Indies game in Jodhpur on Thursday.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2002 00:31 IST

Six matches. Scores even. The series poised for a gripping finish and made even more absorbing by a controversy over the toss in the last India-West Indies game in Jodhpur on Thursday.

India won the sixth one-day international and ensured that interest remains in the final match in Vijayawada after Rahul Dravid decided to chase. And in the manner of all the games in the series so far, the team that won the toss batted second and took the match.

But West Indian Michael Holding, here as a TV commentator, raised the spectre of confusion over the result of the all-important toss in his column in the Hindustan Times on Thursday.

Holding wrote: "Though the newspapers will record that India won the toss, and as predicted, elected to bat second, could someone please let us know who really won the toss in the sixth one-day international?…Suffice to say that with the series so delicately balanced, there need not be any clouding on this issue --- it is not a well known fact but some doubts have been raised over the toss."

The former West Indian paceman confirmed on Friday that the issue was perplexing. "The basis for what I wrote in my column about the confusion over the toss, was what I was told by a couple of people who were present during it. They said there was confusion during the toss."

Those who watched the toss on television would have seen the following sequence of events.

Dravid throws the coin. Ian Bishop, the TV commentator, Mike Proctor, the ICC Match Referee and West Indian skipper Carl Hooper watch the coin come down.

Bishop says, "Tail is the call," (referring to what Hooper picked). The coin (a Kenyan one according to Dravid) falls to the ground. Proctor picks up the coin and Bishop also bends and announces “Carl Hooper” (obviously seeing tails and thinking Hooper has won the toss). He then suddenly realises Hooper is shaking hands with Dravid and says, "Oh, it's Rahul Dravid, India have won the toss."

Here is what the men involved have to say.

Proctor insisted that Hooper won the toss. When contacted in Hyderabad on the way to Vijayawada, he said he didn't see what the confusion was about.

"Everyone seems to feel there's a problem except the two captains and me. I have spoken to both of them --- Hooper said there was no problem and so did Dravid. Hooper called heads and India won the toss."

While Hooper could not be contacted, Dravid said it was fair. "Hooper called heads and that was it."

Bishop, when contacted in the morning, said he didn't want to comment on the issue at all. He later changed his mind. "Initially, I thought he (Hooper) had called tails, but obviously I was wrong. I am happy the way it turned out, that Dravid won the toss."

Whatever the truth, it remains a strange set of circumstances, but one that has ensured that the interest in the series remains alive and kicking.

First Published: Nov 23, 2002 00:31 IST