While Faf du Plessis acknowledges that the Proteas had no-one else but themselves to blame for an embarrassing loss in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, he’s also a firm believer that the five-day format should do away with the toss.
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South Africa’s captain argues that changing this age-old tradition could start reversing the trend of home teams preparing pitches that overwhelmingly suit them.
The surface at the Galle Stadium started turning from the outset and definitely favoured the Sri Lankan spinners, even though the Proteas bowlers were admirable in using those conditions.
“I’m a big fan of taking away the toss,” said Du Plessis.
“I think even in South Africa you’ll still prepare the conditions the way you prepare them now, but you just make sure that you bring some balance. In home conditions teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little.
“I think over the last two or three years away-records have definitely gone down, and games are finishing a lot sooner than they used to.”
Not only is this incentive leading to teams now primarily focusing on winning at home, they don’t try to improve in foreign conditions.
Also, with Test cricket already under pressure in terms of popularity, the increasing rarity of five-day, balanced contests is becoming a major problem.
“When I started playing Test cricket, 400s and 500s were being scored quite regularly,” said Du Plessis.
“So I’m not just speaking about subcontinent conditions. In South Africa games hardly reach the end of day four anymore. I think that’s one of the ways you can make sure that balance is a little better.”