Lehmann backs scrapping of toss
Australia's coach Darren Lehmann has thrown his support behind the idea of scrapping the toss, while he is also open-minded about the concept of four-day Test cricket. While Australia and New Zealand pioneered day-night Test cricket in Adelaide last week, other suggestions have also been made in the debate around making Test cricket more competitive and more attractive to spectators.
One idea is to abolish the coin toss before matches and instead allow the visiting team the choice of whether to bat or bowl, which proponents argue would encourage the host country to produce a fair pitch. Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Michael Holding have all expressed support for the idea, while the ECB will next year trial a similar concept in county cricket.
Under the ECB's trial, the visiting county will automatically be given the option of fielding first and only if they decline will the coin toss go ahead as usual.
"That is one that should definitely come in to cricket, where the opposition gets the right to choose what they want to do," Lehmann told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday. "I reckon it will stop all the wickets suiting the home team.
"As you saw in Perth, the wickets don't suit how we want to play sometimes and in Australia in general the wickets have been fantastic for years, it doesn't really matter on the toss, who wins or not. But in some other places it certainly has a big bearing on the game."
The MCC World Cricket Committee also expressed its concerns about pitch preparation last week and said in a statement that home advantage had become too significant in Test cricket, and it would monitor with interest the ECB trial next year. It was the MCC World Cricket Committee that pushed for day-night Tests six years ago and Lehmann said he loved the roll-out of the inaugural pink-ball Test.
"I thought it was a great concept," he said. "It was probably over a little bit quick for my liking in terms of the game but it was exciting for three days and it could have gone either way. Maybe a little less grass [on the pitch] and maybe get the ball a little bit darker in the seam, but it's only a little bit of tweaking. I was quite impressed by it. I know the fans loved it ... we have just got to make it better."
Four-day Test cricket has also been floated as a possible way of keeping fans interested in the longest format. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has an open mind about the concept, with the possibility that the four days could be extended so that little play was lost overall. Lehmann said he did not mind the idea, but was unsure whether the extra overs could be easily fitted in.
"We don't bowl our 90 overs in a day as it is, so that is probably the only thing," he said. "But I'm open to all those sorts of things. Whatever makes the game better for the fans is pretty important."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale