The coin toss (or the toss) is the flipping of a coin to determine which captain will have the right to choose whether his team will bat or field at the start of the match.
And naturally you can bet on the outcome.
We get a lot of request for toss predictions.
'toss prediction' search trends at Google in India
And as we can see from google search trends there exists quite a bit of interest about the concept, especially in the IPL season.
Before we go any further let us get this this out of the way:
Nobody can predict who is going to win the coin toss.
And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
Its completely random and would require a pretty ridicules amount of bribes to fake, not to mention the risk of cameras catching anything suspicious.
However, if you just are looking for a bit of fun before the game starts, go right ahead. We have no desire to stop you from gambling. Its all fun and games.
After all, what is the difference between betting on the coin toss and a game of roulette?
We just want you to be aware of what you are doing and not feel cheated by someone who claims they can predict who will win the coin toss.
If this is something you would like to place bets on, please take a look at our list of recommended betting sites
Why the coin toss matters
There do exist something we can analyze about the coin toss though:
That is, will the captain who wins the coin toss choose to bat first or second? And how important is the batting order.
This is not random and can have a deep impact on the game. Not only the psychological aspect of who bats first, but things like:
- Being uncertain about the nature of the pitch
- Wanting to play it safe
- The pitch will change as the game progresses
- The position of the sun
- Knowing which target you have to hit to win
In fact, there is a pretty significant improvement in winning percentages for the side winning the coin toss. Almost 10% higher chance of victory in a test match, and about 4% higher chance to win a match in ODI's. Which might not seem like a great deal, but to any top cricketer this is a serious advantage you would never give up.
This is further indication that the coin toss is not something that can easily be faked or fixed.
All of these factors and more are of course considered by our expert writers when writing their tips
Field condition plays a role in choosing batting order
For people who are interested in live betting on matches, the coin toss winner is a pretty important factor to consider. Even more so when the pitch or other factors can be expected to change after the first inning is complete.
The different formats of Cricket
The coin toss have varying degrees of importance.
Impact of toss on T20 match
Usually, the coin toss isn't as significant in the shortest format of the game (T20) as it is the longer formats.
But the teams are increasingly choosing to bowl first in T20s as having a set target in mind often outweighs the impact of other factors (Weather, Pitch conditions, etc.) as those are likely to stay the same throughout the course of the game. Also, often dew factor helps the team batting second.
Impact of toss on Test matches
In Test matches, the coin toss usually is advantageous to the team batting first as the pitch tends to deteriorate as the game progresses. On fourth and fifth days, the cracks in the pitch help bowlers produce a variable bounce, pace, and turn to make it difficult for the batsmen of the team playing in the fourth innings. On the contrary, a surface full of grass may tempt captain winning the toss to bowl first and green tops are conducive to quick bowling and last longer often blunting the disadvantage of batting last.
In addition to the surface/pitch, weather conditions also play a vital role in the decision at the toss. Overcast conditions help quick bowlers move the ball around and teams prefer to bowl under these conditions (Usually happens in England). Take India - England match as an example here.
However, on dry and dusty surfaces, teams prefer to bat first as then their spinners will be bowling last on a turning surface. (Usually a case in Asian conditions)
Impact of toss on One Day International (ODI)
In 50-over matches, the conditions don't change that often over the course of the match as the match lasts for only a day. However, sometimes, the surface is known to slow down or behave differently due to weather conditions which impact the decision at the toss. If there is dew predicted to fall in the evening, teams choose to bat second as it is extremely difficult for the bowlers to grip the wet ball. Conversely, batting becomes increasingly easy with dew around as the ball tends to skid through and come on to the bat at true pace and bounce. Also, if it is predicted to rain during the match, teams prefer to chase as DLS method usually favors the team batting second.
It also boils down to different factors such as team-composition, type of the game (knockout/round-robin) etc. Knockout matches tend to be high-pressure games and runs on the board can put the team chasing in huge pressure. Something which happened in CT Final last year where Pakistan scored a big total batting first and India succumbed to pressure while chasing. The move to bat first can sometimes backfire if the team ends up aiming too high and scoring too low.
Also, previous results can be helpful in providing insights about the decision at the toss. Something I wrote about in the preview of the upcoming match between SA and PAK (Pitch and Conditions section). SA vs PAK 5th ODI
Overall, there's no single thumb-rule to predict what a team is going to do after winning the toss as the captain/team-management considers the amalgamation of above-mentioned factors. The two captains also get to look at the surface - which usually is the best indicator of how the pitch is going to behave and has a major say in the decision-making.
Lets look at an example of the expected return of a coin toss bet.
Most gambling sites will give you about 1.90 in odds for either side winning the coin toss. Some sportsbooks will even go lower. We have seen as low as 1.80 some places.
The math is pretty easy because a coin toss is as close to 50/50 as we get in real life.
On average we would win 90 half the time, and lose 100 half the time. Giving us a loss of 5% per bet
Example: 100 bets of ₹1 each, would give us 50 times a loss of, and 50 times a payout of ₹1.90
Total payout would be ₹1.9 * 50 = ₹95.
So we have wagered ₹100 to win ₹95, a loss of ₹5 in total.
This means that we have lost on average ₹5/100 = ₹0.05 per bet
In gamblers terms we would say that this gives a house edge of 5%, similar to an american roulette table.
As a curious side not we can add that the actual odds for a coin toss might not be entirely 50/50 according to a study there is a slightly higher chance for the side that starts up before the toss.
But its still just 51/49 at best, and this information is quite useless to us unless we know what the players decide. Furthermore, even if you had this information, the odds are still too low to achieve anything close to a long term profit.
Lets end this section with a normal misconception about odds and probability:
If a team has lost the coin toss 5 times in a row, this in no way effects the odds of the sixth toss. There is no such thing as "They are bound to get a win next time". The odds will still be 50/50, read more about this and other such phenomena called the Gambler's fallacy.
Bat Toss in Cricket
Introduced with Big Bash League in 2018-2019, bat toss tried to change the 141-year old tradition of coin toss or coin flip that had been continuing for generations. Rather than saying “heads” or “tails”, the team captains guessed for “flats” or “hills” (upward or downward respectively) during the “Bat Flip” toss.
A specific built custom bat was designed for the toss. Lachlan Dinger, which already makes bats for Usman Khawaja, Tim Pain and Alyssa Healy, did the honours of coming our with bats of symmetrical weight as a lot of circle talks suggested that calling “hills” will be more likely outcome as the bat will roll over.
While the tosses went fairly balanced, the bat toss was not without its fare share of wildness. Have a look at the wild bat flip below where the bat almost hit the cameraman.
Want to try for yourself?
Well the easiest way would be to just toss a coin yourself as many times as you like.
This is actually a nice exercise if you want to learn about probabilities and get a better feel for variation. A good lesson for any sport bettor when trying to determine if you are having bad luck or just betting wrong.
Or if you prefer a more computer based approach, there exists a million different simulators online.
Here you can find one example, where you can save your statistics.
You'll quickly notice that for the first 10-20 tosses the variation can be huge, but the longer you persist the closer to 50/50 you will get.
The same is true for online betting.
Anyone can be lucky or unlucky in the first few matches
In the long run the randomness evens out. Bad bets will lose and good bets will win. The trick is getting enough information to know which is which.
No matter your reasons we wish you the best of luck in the future.