Thursday, 3 December 2015

Tossed Away

Long suffering readers of these pages will know that there is little that can excite Fantasy Bob's interest more than the protocols of the toss.

A classic toss
 Bill Lawry and Ray Illingworth
Melbourne 1971
So they will not be surprised that he has read with alarm the recent announcement that the powers that be have decided that there will be no mandatory toss in either division of the English County Championship in the 2016 season.
With a rising sense of panic, he spent a few anxious hours tracking down the highest executive authorities of the East of Scotland Cricket Association. Eventually he traced a spokesman to a pool side sun lounger in one of the more exclusive resorts in the Canary Islands. To his relief FB was able to extract an assurance that there were no plans to replicate this development in ESCA's lower leagues.

For it is in those leagues that FB's tossing skills are the stuff of legend. They have been an essential part of the cricketing education of the many junior players who have grown up under FB's so called captaincy. Notwithstanding this experience, they have for the most part grown into upstanding members of the community. But collectively they cannot envisage a cricket match without the preceding ritual of FB striding to the middle with his opposite number only to return minutes later with the wholly expected news that he had lost the toss again.

'Are we batting or bowling,' his team mates would ask him with eager faces.
'Definitely,' he would respond confidently, 'but I'm not sure in what order.'

For FB would be so overcome by the emotional strain of his certainty that heads would come up being shattered, that he failed to pay any attention to his opponent's decision.

The toss is therefore a matter of importance to FB.  It gives his cricketing day a sense of purpose.  For, as many who have either played with or watched him, there is absolutely no purpose in anything else he does on the cricket field.  To coin a current phrase, the removal of the toss would therefore represent an existential threat.  Who knows where it would lead?

It is said that the change has been implemented to encourage the development of spin bowling and discourage sides from preparing overly seam friendly wickets.  FB understands that instead of the toss the visiting team will have the choice of whether they want to field first. If they don't wish to take up that option the toss will take place - so they could end up fielding anyway which seems to defeat the object of the exercise - or does it?  Who knows? FB can't decide. It's a bit of a toss up.

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