Chris Waters: Early evidence points to flawed thinking over toss revision

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale's has described dispensing with the mandatory coin toss as 'absolute madness' (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale's has described dispensing with the mandatory coin toss as 'absolute madness' (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).
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THE road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The decision to drop the mandatory coin toss in the Championship this season was designed to encourage better pitches and more spinners.

But while it is too early to assess the effect on young English spinners, there has been no sign so far of an improvement in pitches, unless one considers a glut of draws a rousing success.

To date, the vast majority of Championship games have been drawn, with Yorkshire having had four in their opening five matches.

Although the weather has played a big part, as it invariably does, so too have surfaces that have seemed as bland as much of the cricket on view.

Fearful of leaving pitches too damp to assist away sides, who now have the option to bowl first, some counties have perhaps gone the other way and left surfaces too dry by removing grass.

It is a difficult balance for groundsmen to strike, and it has exposed a lack of quality pitches.

Some feel it has also exposed a lack of quality bowling, with not enough genuine pace on show, with conditions much harder now for the 70-80mph brigade.

Although the principle behind the decision to scrap the toss was understandable, a decision that will be reviewed by the England and Wales Cricket Board at the end of the season, Yorkshire are not alone in believing that the thinking was flawed.

The champions, who were also annoyed that they were not consulted about the change, feel there would have been no need to ditch the toss had the ECB’s pitch inspectors been stronger in recent years.

Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, described the decision as “absolute madness” and questioned why, if the pitches have been so poor, that no points have been deducted.

On many occasions, for instance, 15 wickets have fallen on the first day of a match with no penalty imposed, yet flat tracks routinely go unpunished.

This issue seems particularly pertinent at the end of a week in which Yorkshire have fought out the proverbial bore-draw at Taunton.

Granted, the weather played a part there too, but you practically know before you set off for the south-west that it will all end with a handshake on the final day, barring collusion of the type that Yorkshire are unlikely to be drawn into again after recent fingers-burned experiences at the County Ground.

Put simply, the pitch at Taunton last week was unacceptable for county cricket in that it did not provide a proper contest between bat and ball.

Granted, Yorkshire delivered a below-par display with the bat and might well have lost, but it was a batsman’s paradise from start to finish.

In the final analysis, it is spectators who will suffer unless the situation improves, with the Championship needing all the help it can get to generate interest.

From an entertainment point of view, there was little wrong with the competition before the ludicrous decision to scrap the toss and the derisory move to cut the number of games from next summer.

With matches crammed into the start and end of each season, thereby creating more space for limited-overs cricket, it is no wonder that there is a dearth of spin bowlers in this country.

Those are the sort of issues that need to be addressed.