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Friday, November 27, 2015

Indian win at Nagpur ! McCullum loses toss at Perth ... and 'no toss' from now ?

After losing the toss in the second test against Australia in Perth Black Caps' captain Brendon McCullum took his record at the toss in test cricket to won 10, lost 16, but is the Kiwi captain really that unlucky?  Superstitious Black Caps fans concerned there might be a curse on the skipper can rest easy. Despite his unfavourable record in tests, McCullum's record in all formats of international cricket is actually pretty close to 50-50. 

When a coin is tossed up, there are only two possible outcomes – it can be Head or a Tail [crooked possibility of coin standing up removed]  - the possibility of somebody determining the outcome, scientifically, is  not probable – yet when it occurs in sequence by chance, some Captains are touted as intelligent when calling them ‘lucky’ would have been more appropriate. 

When we toss up, there can be a head or a tail – so the possibility of your calling it right is 50% ?  - if that logic were to be correct, then you should be calling right one out of 2 – that does not happen – some Captains lose tosses in row.   That takes us to the ‘probability theory’ -  Probabilities are written as numbers between zero and one. A probability of one means that the event is certain. If you toss a coin, it will come up a head or a tail. So there is a probability of one that either of these will happen. A probability of zero means that an event is impossible. If you toss a coin, you cannot get both a head and a tail at the same time, so this has zero probability. Anything that can happen but is not certain is written as a number less than one.

In 1979 when Pak toured India and when Asif Iqbal was the captain – in the last test at Calcutta,  there were allegations that Asif told the Indian captain Gundapa Vishwanath that he had won the toss and mildmannered Vishy lacked the gumption to contest him and accepted his words !!! ~ again in 2011, in that World Cup finals with Ravi Shastri as commentator;  match referee  Jeff Crowe,   Dhoni tossed the coin and Ravi Shastri started querying Dhoni on what he intends doing.   It was clear to most that Sanga had called tails and lost it but Sanga claimed otherwise and Jeff Crowe said ‘he had not heard it in the din’.  .. … and there was re-toss !!! If not others, Sangakkara certainly knew what it really was ! 

At Nagpur, India won the Series by 124 runs. Ravi Ashwin waltzed away to his fourth 10-wicket match haul, Amit Mishra - like he did in Mohali - broke the big partnership by getting Amla and then took du Plessis out in the last exchanges before tea. The resumption of the chase was stillborn when Ashwin took out Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers in the first 10 overs of the day. Surprisingly, Ravindra Jadeja went wicketless in 25 overs, but it wasn't as if he didn't look like getting one.

A lethal cocktail of an underprepared pitch and their own recent regression as a tough-nut outfit in Test cricket explains South Africa’s seemingly imminent fall from grace in India. The wheel spun full circle on a violent day two of the third Test match on Thursday, with 20 wickets tumbling and SA succumbing to meagre 79.   An era ended today  when SA  predictably succumbed by 124 runs in the third Test, ensuring series defeat – their first in 16 away ones since 2006. This time they batted a good bit longer (89.5 overs) than any of the three prior ones had lasted.  A total of 185 may not look too flash on paper,  but that is on a Test where Murali Vijay’s 40 remained the highest score. 

Getting back to toss, just as we have special coin in Freedom Series, on  14th  Nov 2013, Test no. 2102 commenced at Wankhede and it started with a sigh of disappointment ………….. MS Dhoni won the toss and said, he would bowl first…  it was no ordinary toss – a toss with a special gold coin engraved Sachin and SRT 200 …. As the decision was heard, crowds expressed its disapproval………….  I also thought that effectively now Sachin had only one last Test innings…

English cricket will feature a major change to the tradition of the pre-match coin toss to decide which team bats first in 2016, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Thursday. In both tiers of next season's County Championship, the visiting captain will be given the option of bowling first which, if he chooses to take, will see the toss rendered unnecessary.

A coin will only be spun, as has been cricket's tradition for over a hundred years, if the visiting captain rejects the chance to bowl first. The proposal was passed, on the basis of a one-year trial, at an ECB board meeting at Lord's on Thursday and cricket committee head Peter Wright said the move came about partly as a result of concerns about the development of English spinners. Rather than home teams now winning the toss and unleashing a seam-heavy attack on a pitch which makes batting hazardous, the away captain will now have the option to intervene.

So an altogether new probability in the ‘toss’ – which perhaps You and I never thought, would happen !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Nov. 2015.

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