Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is the old saying really becoming true..??

"When you win the toss,9 times out of 10 you elect to bat.The tenth time,you think about it and again elect to bat first."

I am sure that most cricket followers would have heard of the this saying.Ian Chappell has mentioned it on quite a few occasions.Till recently,I never thought of it being true and rather dismissed it,just like any another stereotypical statement.I felt the decision to bat or bowl would depend on pitch conditions,weather,team combinations,opposition among other factors.However,in the recent past I have almost never seen a captain win the toss in a test match and not elect to bat first.The just finished India-Australia series and India-Sri Lanka series had 5 tosses.Indian skipper MS Dhoni lost all five of them and ended up fielding first all 5 times.Another surprising fact is that all the tosses that Ricky Ponting has won in tests at home,he has elected to bat every single time.

With pitches in the sub-continent turning a lot on the last day,batting first is almost an automatic choice for any captain who wins the toss.Similar is the scenario in West Indies where the slow pitches develop cracks as the match goes on.This causes uneven bounce and makes life difficult for the batsmen batting last.Even Sabina Park,Kingston which was the liveliest and fastest pitch in the Caribbean has become slow over the years.

As pitches have turned batting friendly around the world,more and more team prefer putting up the runs and then try to attack the opposition.Also the fact that barring a few batsmen,most struggle to do well in the fourth innings has been established earlier.Only a few venues such as Headingly in England provide good movement for the quick bowlers on the first day which compel skippers to bowl first.Even that doesn't guarantee that team batting first loses.The Basin Reserve in New Zealand is probably the only ground where teams would probably bowl first on most occasions,thanks to humid conditions and the pitch which has been fruitful for pacers in particularly.South African grounds too are mostly batting friendly with high scores seen often,like in the famous Bullring(The Wanderers in Johannesburg).

Apart from maybe on two exceptional grounds,the old saying certainly seems to be more than just a stereotype.


  1. In Ponting's case, he has been averse to opt for bowling first ever since he made this decision in the famous Ashes 2nd Test at Edgbaston 2005, which Australia lost by 2 runs.

    Ponting got a lot of flak for that decision since England scored more than 400 runs on the first day itself. Since then, Ponting has never bowled first on winning a toss in Test cricket. And even before that Test, the only occasion when Ponting did opt to bowl first on winning the toss, the opposition (New Zealand) scored 400+ in the first innings.

    So nowadays, I doubt Ponting even puts a thought to such a decision of what to do on winning a toss. In fact, the 2nd Test against Pakistan at Leeds this July, Ponting should have chosen to bowl first given the overhead conditions and the strength of opposition's bowling.

    But, as you very correctly said, because of this old adage, did not do so. The result: Australia bowled out for 88 as Pakistan went on to win the match and square the series.

  2. Yes Shri,but its seriously surprisingly to see so many bat first decisions.Toss really doesn't matter to much these days,I guess.

  3. On the contrary, toss matters even more these days given that all captains prefer to bat first. And that is why I respect India's recent streak of winning matches despite losing tosses even more...

  4. Umm...yeah.I wrote that carelessly.You are right,toss particularly in subcontinent is very crucial.Though teams in good form can win in spite losing toss,just like India who has recently broken Sri Lanka's 10year record of not losing after winning the toss.


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