“A coin toss is a widely accepted method of choosing between two options, and not just in cricket or sports”
When Mark Boucher took the crease as a batsman and flipped his bat in the air several times before taking guard, little did he know that some Big Bash League head was watching him and churning out an idea to get rid of the traditional coin toss in cricket! The outrageousness of the idea hits you when you realise that instead of ‘heads’ or ‘tails’, the captain will be calling ‘hills’ or ‘flats’.
If the bat falls face down, it is a ‘hill’ while the other way round is ….you get it. In what drunken state this idea was formulated remains unknown but the head of Big Bash League in Cricket Australia, Kim McConnie, bore a pretty straight face when he made the announcement to the world and set the cricketing fraternity hunting for bat trolls.
“For me, it’s a great moment which reflects what BBL is about,” Cricket Australia’s head of the Big Bash League, Kim McConnie, said.
Insanity? The only possible answer that hits your head when reading his question.
There have been 2333 Test matches played and each one, every single one of them, have begun with a coin toss. At the beginning, it is believed that a different rule existed in cricket. While cricket was still in its initial years, the captain who won the toss had the leeway to bat or bowl and also choose the pitch to play on.
This was changed and given that just one surface could be really match-ready and the others were used as practice wickets, this was a sensible move driven by logic. It wasn’t a mere “change” instead of a move backed by sound reasoning.
Also read: Making sense of the (senseless) toss debate
The bat flip (ridiculous to even say it) is supposedly a “change” that all 59 matches of the upcoming Big Bash League would see. That the idea was incarnated at a time the concept of coin tosses has become an ICC discussion point (what else do they decide in these ICC meetings?) bears little relevance when you consider that the hills or flats are an idea driven by madness more than reasoning.
“Some people don’t like change but I’d also challenge people to say when was the last time anyone watched the coin toss or really focused on it? We are making it much more relevant to families, we are creating a moment which is much more fitting with kids,” McConnie said.
The statement makes little sense given that kids, at least in some parts of the world, have conceived better ideas of deciding who wins the toss. The bat flip is as insane and baseless as it sounds while there are several other ways of choosing the winner in a toss.
Take this for instance. In the author’s childhood, while playing backyard cricket with friends and cousins we had an ingenious way of identifying the winner of the toss.
One captain (say, captain A) would bend down and pick the smallest stone from the mud and show it to the second captain (say, captain B). The substance which would lead to the end result was identified and agreed upon this way.
Captain A would fold his fingers and hide the stone (remember it’s really small) in his hands and rotate his arms as fast as possible. In the process, he either throws the stone out or keeps it inside his hand.
If captain B is able to guess whether the stone is in or out, he wins the toss.
Simple. Innovative. Interesting. And funny.
If at all they wanted an alternative, this should have been it. But it makes little sense to change something just for the sake of changing it. There is little evidence out there to suggest that the coin toss needs to change. There is little reason and scientific logic to suggest that a bat flip is a 50-50 chance despite McConnie’s claims that the bat will be equally weighted.
“You’d be surprised at the science that’s gone into this. It is a specially weighted bat to make sure that it is 50-50. I’ve got it from great authority at our [bat maker] Kookaburra friends that this is a tested and weighted bat to deliver that equity.”
A coin toss is a widely accepted method of choosing between two options, and not just in cricket or sports. By altering something traditional, which has been part of the game from time unknown, T20 or Big Bash has furthered distanced themselves from the game called cricket. While he was at it, McConnie might as well have coined a new name for the game.