Before the start of a cricket game, a coin is tossed to see which captain gets to select who will bat first and who will bowl first. Just like with most things in cricket, you can bet on the outcome of this event. In fact, a lot of people enjoy trying to predict which team will win the toss and “toss prediction” is a popular search on Google. This guide will take a closer look at the coin toss.
The Importance of the Coin Toss in a Cricket Match
Before we delve deeper into this issue, we would just like to emphasise the fact that it is impossible to predict which captain will call the coin toss correctly. If somebody tells you otherwise, you are looking at a liar. You will always have a 50/50 chance of winning this type of bet. In fact, this type of market is just there for those punters who want a bit of fun. So, if you ever come across a website that is claiming that they can predict the outcome of a coin toss, we suggest that you leave quickly as the rest of the site definitely won’t be worth reading.
Look out for the right signs
Winning the coin toss is very important as the winning captain can give his team a huge advantage before the match has even started. We will take a look at some of these below.
Sometimes it might be tricky to read the pitch, so the captain that wins the toss can choose to bowl first so that they have more time to see how the pitch is behaving.
If it is obvious that the pitch will crack up and deteriorate as the match wears on, the winning captain will choose to bat first so that his team do not need to bat last on a tricky pitch.
If the pitch is deemed to be a batting paradise, the captain that wins the toss will choose to bat first in the hope that his side can rack up a huge total and put a lot of pressure on their opponents.
If a team likes to know how many runs they need to win the game, they will always bowl first if they win the toss. Furthermore, there are some teams out there that win a lot more when they are chasing a target instead of setting one.
The weather forecast can also have an impact on the decision that the winning captain makes. If the weather forecast is poor and rain is predicted during play, the winning captain will often choose to bowl first as the DLS method that is used for rain-affected matches favours the team that is batting second.
Believe it or not, but the team that wins the coin toss increases their chances of winning a test match by around 10% and their chances of winning an ODI by around 4%. This might not seem like a huge difference, but in professional sport, it is an advantage that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is safe to say that in no other sport is a coin toss so important.
The Importance Varies Depending on the Format Being Played
- T20: In twenty over cricket, the coin toss isn’t as important as the weather and pitch conditions often remain the same throughout the duration of the match. Coin toss winners often choose to bowl first now as the dew that falls later on in the game often helps the team that is batting last. This is because the bowlers will struggle to grip a wet ball.
- ODI: In 50 over cricket, the condition of the pitch shouldn’t really change that much either. However, some pitches are known to slow down as the match wears on, or dew might be expected to fall when it starts to cool down. If the pitch is expected to slow down, the captain will bat first as timing the ball will become increasingly difficult. If the pitch is expected to remain the same but dew is expected, the captain will bowl first. Therefore, the coin toss is a bit more important than it is in a T20 match.
- Test: In test cricket, batting first is often an advantage to the team that bats first as pitches often get harder to bat on as the game wears on. During the fourth and fifth days, there could be variable bounce and extra spin, making batting almost impossible. However, if the surface has a lovely green layer of grass on it at the toss, the winning captain will often opt to bowl first as his bowlers should be able to extract extra swing movement from the pitch. Furthermore, the captain that wins the toss also have to take the weather conditions into account. Therefore, the coin toss can be very important for a test match.
What is the House Edge with This Type of Prediction?
Most bookmakers will provide odds of around 1.90 for either team winning the toss. There are some that will offer lower odds of around 1.80.
As this is a 50/50 scenario, the maths we need to do is pretty easy. We will theoretically end up winning 90 half of the time and losing 100 the other half of the time. This will give us a 5% loss our bet.
If you are confused, the maths provided below will hopefully help to clear things up.
Let us say that we have placed 100 bets of ₹100 with odds of 1.90. In this case, we would get 50 times a win of ₹190 Indian rupees and 50 times a loss of ₹5,000.
- Our total pay-out = 190 x 50 = ₹9,500
- So, we wagered ₹10,000 for a total loss of ₹500.
- Therefore, we lost around 500/10,000 = ₹0.05 per bet.
In gambling terms, this gives the sportsbook a house edge of around %5.
N.B: Please keep in mind that the odds for a coin toss will always be 50/50. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because a team has lost eight coin tosses in a row that they are bound to lose the next one. Every coin toss that they participate in, they still have as much a chance of winning as their opponents do.
The ICC Might Eventually Ditch the Coin Toss
Since 2018, the ICC have been toying with the idea of ditching the coin toss for test cricket as they declared that the host nations were getting the groundsmen to ensure that the pitch favours their playing style. They were thinking about just allowing the visiting team to choose whether they want to bat or bowl first.
They announced that this would be the case during the 2019 Ashes Series, meaning Australia would always have the choice of batting or bowling first. However, they eventually changed their mind and said that the toss was an integral part of the game.
In the County Championship in England, the away side have the choice to field first if they wish. If they do not want to, the toss will take place as usual.
Today the coin toss still exists like normal in international world cricket events, but we definitely won’t be surprised if they make some radical changes in the future. Maybe they will just have a coin toss at the start of the series, and then the teams will take it, in turn, to choose whether they want to bat or bowl.
For example, let us say that India are playing England in a five-match test series. A coin toss takes place in the first test and Virat Kohli wins it and decide to bat first. In the second test, England will get to choose and so. Okay, India will get to choose three times to England’s two, but that is how the cookie crumbles. This is a lot fairer than one of the teams winning five tosses in a row, which has happened before.
When it comes to tournaments such as the Cricket World Cup or the World Cup T20, the coin toss should always remain as it is the fairest way to decide who bats first in a one-off match.