Liam Dawson’s runout summed up the mood for England as they struggled to be all out for 103.
The toss of the coin in cricket is no longer a random way of deciding who bats and bowls first. It often decides the outcome of the match.
The captain these days doesn’t even have to make a calculated decision. The obvious decision in ninety-five percent of cases is to bat first in Test matches and one dayers.
The two Tests played thus far in India show that the team that won the toss and batted first was the dominant side in that test match.
Coincidence? I think not.
Groundsman these days prepare their pitches so that the Day One pitch is a flat track that offers nothing to the bowlers. This is in pretty much the same in every country.
Over the match, the pitch deteriorates which makes it hard to bat last on.
Of course, in the first innings even when the second team bats, the pitch is usually still good for batting.
But there are several other factors against the team batting first:
1. The psychological factor of going out to bat facing a large deficit.
2. The bowlers of the team that batted first are fresh and are confident knowing they are defending a large total.
3. The opening batsmen of the second innings team are probably a bit fatigued because they have standing out on the field for a long time.
4. In one dayers, the team batting second has to chase under lights, which is generally harder to do due to visibility factors.
Ultimately, if a team is significantly better than the opposition, they will win regardless of whether they bat or bowl.
But if the teams are evenly matched, I think the outcome is generally determined by who wins the toss and bats first.
A possible solution would be to instruct groundsman to prepare pitches that offer more to the bowlers on Day One, or design pitches that don’t deteriorate as much over five days.