Coin toss to be scrapped in County Championship cricket

Adil Rashid
The trial to remove the toss is to to reassessed at the end of next season, the ECB says

The mandatory coin toss is to be scrapped in the County Championship next season, the England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed.

The change is effective in both divisions and aims to encourage better pitches for four-day cricket.

An ECB statement read: "The visiting captain will be offered the opportunity of bowling first.

"If he declines, the toss will take place as normal. But if he accepts, there will be no toss."

The recommendation came from the ECB's cricket committee, which includes ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, England team director Andrew Strauss and former England coach Andy Flower.

The committee's chairman, Peter Wright, said a decision on whether to extend the trial would be taken at the end of the 2016 season.

BBC Radio 4: Should the coin toss disappear?

Is it all about spin?

Wright also said the decision was partly motivated about concern over the development of English spin bowlers.

"There has been concern for some years about some Championship pitches," he said.

"But it is fair to say that the plight of spin bowling in this country brought things into focus.

"Figures showing spinners bowled only 21.5% of the overs in the 2015 Championship were presented to the committee and we have come to the conclusion that the only way to bring spin bowlers more into the game is to provide better pitches for them to bowl on."

Good or bad? Divided opinion

On Wednesday, England's limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan said the move may benefit the game long-term.

"If it's to improve the standard of wickets that we play on, and potentially produce a couple of wickets where spin might be conducive to that particular ground, I think absolutely," he said.

"The benefit in county cricket might not be at the very beginning, but potentially for younger guys coming through - they'll develop different skills which will in turn give them a greater base, if they do get picked for England, to play around the world and do it successfully."

But Andrew Gale, captain of county champions Yorkshire, described the decision as "absolute madness".

He added on social media: "If the pitches are bad, why have no points been deducted in past few seasons?"

New helmet safety measures

Phillip Hughes
The ECB says new safety measures are designed to reduce the risk of head injuries within the game

Meanwhile, the ECB also announced new helmet safety measures, on the eve of the first anniversary of Phillip Hughes' death.

The Australia batsman died aged 25, two days after being struck on the top of the neck by a ball during a domestic match in Sydney, in November 2014.

The ECB said the new measures will require all male and female cricketers to use helmets when batting.

Wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps and fielders closer than eight yards to the batsman's middle stump, except behind the wicket on the off side, will also have to wear helmets.

It said the recommendations followed a joint review by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association, and were designed to reduce the risk of head and facial injuries within the game.

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