Why can’t we toss?

Listening to the news at lunchtime today, I heard that England are playing Cricket at Trent Bridge and the first thing we did was to LOSE the toss. I don’t need to state the obvious but we then went on to lose 2 quick wickets. Now these are professional cricketers here, and I can pretty well guarantee that they will not have practiced tossing in any of the training. Now when England play International football, they often lose at the end of the game in a penalty shootout, so, I hear, they have started to practice, as a team, at shooting penalties. Now they clearly must spend several minutes each year on this based on their performance in International matches, but at least its a start and they are showing willing.
In International cricket however, they clearly just don’t put any effort into this extremely important part of the game. There’s a simple rule that if the sun’s shining you want to go in to bat, if its overcast, you want the other team to bat first as the ball spins better in overcast weather. As as India showed today, they went on to a great start by putting us into bat first. Clearly, tossing can make the difference to whether we win or not and we aren’t practicing this critical part of the game.
Now I can hear what you are saying, there’s no point because it’s a 50:50 chance of it coming down either heads or tails. However, I can assure you that this is not the case. While a prisoner of war during World War II, J. Kerrich conducted an experiment in which he flipped a coin 10,000 times and kept a record of the outcomes. A portion of the results is given in the table below.

Number of Tosses Number of Heads
10 4
50 25
100 44
500 255
1,000 502
5,000 2,533
10,000 5,067

So, I think we need to focus on this 0.67 deviation from the straight 50:50 probability to hone our toss predicting skills. If we got really good at it we could apply for it to become an Olympic sport in its own right. Just imagine, maybe we could produce some world-class tossers.

UPDATE 1st August 2011 England won the match by 319 runs. Maybe losing the toss is cool!

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