Faf du Plessis believes getting rid of the toss in Test cricket would help teams compete better when they travel away from home. The South Africa captain was speaking in the aftermath of his team’s 3-0 whitewash at the hands of India.
Although South Africa had begun the series promisingly with two key batsmen – Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock – scoring centuries and showing that they could combat quality spinners in the subcontinent, things went downhill quickly. The second and third Tests were blowouts, and predictable for the pattern they followed.
“Every Test match, they bat first, they score 500, they declare when it’s dark, they get three wickets when it’s dark and when day three starts, you’re under pressure,” du Plessis said. “It was like copy and paste in every Test match.”
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Playing India in India is among the most difficult challenges in Test cricket at the moment. They have lost only one of their last 33 matches at home and there was a moment at the start of the series in Visakhapatnam, when the coin landed against him and du Plessis smiled in resigned fashion, as if he knew what was about to happen.
In the last three years in India – that’s 10 Tests – only three times has a team come back from losing the toss to win the game. India has done it twice and Afghanistan once, against fellow Test newbies, Ireland. Even saving the game is hard with only two draws, and one of them – the Sri Lanka Test in Kolkata in 2017 – had heavy rain all but ruining an entire day’s play.
The practice of doing away with the toss was trialled in the English county circuit, where the visiting team got the chance to choose what they wanted to do at the start of the game. The idea came into being as a way to ensure home teams did not roll out pitches that stacked the odds in their own favour. Pakistan bought into it this Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season and India, too, have been looking into the matter. Earlier this year at a conclave attended by domestic captains and coaches, one of the topics discussed was getting rid of the toss.
Plenty of the South African players made it clear that none of the pitches they played on were loaded in one way or another against them, including du Plessis. But he still liked the idea of abandoning the toss altogether. “[If it is removed] then away teams have a better chance. In South Africa, I don’t mind that. We bat on green tops anyway.”