Who gives a toss?
MCC - the custodian of the laws of cricket - does not allow the pre-match toss to take place in the pavilion. "The captains shall toss for the choice of innings, on the field of play and in the presence of one or both of the umpires", the law no. 12.4 on innings says clearly.
In the World Cup final on Saturday at the Wankhede Stadium, the toss had to be redone after confusion over the call due to the noise in the stands. This however, is not the first instance in the international game when the coin had to be tossed again, according to Sudhir Vaidya, the BCCI's official cricket statisticiian.
'In one of the Test matches at Harare, the former ICC match-referee, Jackie Hendricks (West Indies) had asked the Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower to toss it again", Vaidya, who incidentally is also the ICC's World Cup statistician, recalls.
"It happened against Pakistan when Andy Flower tossed the coin, his opposite captain, Salim Malik for some unknown reason shouted 'Bird' instead of calling a 'head or a 'tail'. The bird, an eagle is of course the national symbol of Zimbabwe which also decorates one side of a coin. The bird side of the coin was clearly visible as it fell. Pakistan captain claimed the toss and was congratulated by the home captain at Malik decided to bat", says Vaidya.
"The match-referee disputed the toss and the call made by Salim Malik and ordered the toss to be retaken". Perhaps the match-referee was in the knowledge of another incident a couple of years ago in New Zealand when it was Salim Malik again who instead of calling head or tail had mumbled something in Urdu and had claimed the toss against Ken Rutherford, the New Zealand captain who had protested but reluctantly accepted Malik's version.
"At Lord's in 1979 both Mike Brearley and Venkat thought they had won the toss (not sure if this is recorded anywhere but I was there!). Luckily Brearley wanted to bowl and Venkat wanted to bat! Eventually Brearley shrugged and said "Let him have the toss then". Brearley was right: England then bowled India out for 96", Cricinfo's renowned statistician Steven Lynch says.
"Sometimes (very rarely now) they are done in the pavilion. And there was at least one county game when, in fact, there was no toss at all because one team wanted to bat and the other one wanted to bowl (Middlesex v Warwickshire, from memory? A toss win is given - the batting side I suspect - just to complete the records", he added.