Despite the advice of one or two team-mates, Ive always felt the toss was a completely random affair, lacking in both technique (It always falls on the side facing up) or pattern (Tails never fails). Even so, the toss was often the start of me being blamed - sometimes for simply losing it, at others for making the wrong decision - so occasionally Id shift this burden back on to the mouthier players by canvassing opinion and suggesting that since Id followed their lead, they better bloody get it right.The significance of the toss is hard to know - enough, evidently, for the odd opposing captain to pick up the coin before Id had chance to check the outcome - although its weight in club cricket is to a large degree determined by the low quality of the pitches and the format of most Saturday-afternoon games, which necessitate ten second-innings wickets being taken for a win.As Jon Hotten blogged here a couple of months back, it isnt clear how much of an advantage winning the toss actually comprises. A recent Numbers Game column showed (apropos a suggestion of Darren Lehmanns that the away team should be given the toss in Test cricket) that this eventuality has of late increased the chances of victory in England and Sri Lanka, but not in Australia and India - although one must be wary of drawing causal conclusions from these bare facts, since a teams capacity to exploit the toss is dependent on the bowling resources at their disposal.In higher standards and the longer formats of the game, the toss shouldnt be all that significant. Optimally, the advantage of bowling on the first morning, while the pitch still contains moisture, should be counterbalanced by the notional disadvantage of having to bat last. Of course, perfect balance is unattainable - if only because of crickets essential asymmetry: two direct antagonists, yet each doing different things at different times in different, ever-evolving conditions - yet should be pursued nonetheless.It is the lack of another type of balance in the prevailing conditions of County Championship cricket - conditions that rarely favour spin over seam - that has in part led to this years somewhat radical experiment with the toss, whereby the visiting captain, if he so wishes, can opt to bowl first, otherwise there will be a contested toss.The change has been designed to stop teams producing result pitches (in an English context, greentops), and thus to prevent mediocre bowlers being as penetrative as they currently are, which, in turn, will help, it is hoped, reverse the decline in English spin bowling, in both numbers and quality. Discussing the rule changes in an interview on this site, former England batsman Robert Key said: My original view was that we should have tougher penalties for poor pitches. But that is so hard to police. It just becomes a minefield. But what I still think is that the stigma over spinning pitches has to end. If we see 15 wickets fall to seam bowling on the first day of a game, nobody bats an eye. But if the ball turns on day one, people start to worry. That has to stop.It is undoubtedly an ambitious tweak to the county cricket ecosystem, but in many ways it leaves the basic understanding of the character of that ecosystem - that its always seam-bowler friendly - unchallenged. The options presented to the visiting captain only reinforce that bias.As it stands, the away captain can either bowl first (presumably to take advantage of excessive moisture in the pitch) or can contest the toss, the inference being that he would either prefer to bat first or is a pathological gambler. In other words, if the advantage lies in bowling first, then that advantage is automatically handed to the visitors. Again, this is to disincentivise the home groundsman from preparing pitches too favourable to medium-pacers, whichever team they play for.But what about the spinners in all this?Taking the opposite view to Key, Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale was against the experiment, arguing that it removed the potential exploitation of home advantage. But that isnt strictly true. What if your team has two excellent spinners, the visitors dont, and the groundsman prepares an ultra-dry pitch, perhaps one on which there has already been a 50-over and T20 game? Clearly the advantage at the toss would be to bat first, since the pitch is only going to get worse. So why isnt that option available to the visiting captain? (Perhaps the options at the toss could switch on July 31, the start of the English summer, although most clubs have only four or five Championship games remaining by then.) If the foregoing scenario panned out under this summers regulations, the home team captain would know for sure he had a 50-50 chance of being able to get the best out of this pitch (batting first, bowling last) and might thus instruct the groundsman to take the gamble to make a spinning pitch. On a green pitch, he almost certainly knows that he will be batting first, in the least advantageous conditions, and so probably wont. So the new rules arent an automatic advantage for the visitors.It could be argued that, either way, English cricket still gets the net result of more spinner-friendly surfaces, simply by virtue of them being less green. But why not have the odd home team-favouring dustbowl, for varietys sake? After all, Englands two best Test spinners of recent times, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, learnt their trade by bowling plenty of overs on helpful Northampton strips.Anyhow, its clear that any beneficial long-term changes to the character of county cricket - in particular, the percentage of overs bowled by spin - will take time to emerge, although this seasons number of draws (52 out of 79 games, already more than last years total, with 65 games remaining) and double-hundreds (13, compared to 16 in total last year) already suggests the pitches are flatter.Ultimately the whole problem with pitches is bound up with the consequences of losing. It is competition - the jeopardy of the two-divisional structure; the omnipresent threat of settling in to second-rank status, second-rank budgets, young talent forever seduced by greener (or browner) grass elsewhere - that creates the doctoring and distortions. A short-term outlook for the county takes precedence over long-term benefits for England.The ECB taking macro decisions to seed conditions in which spinners might flourish is a hugely complex affair without any guarantees. When all is said and done, perhaps centrally contracted groundsmen would offer the best solution, alongside universal recognition that English cricket is diminished without encouragement and opportunity for its spinners.Time will tell how the experiment with the toss changes things, but a recent ESPNcricinfo poll revealed that 54.64% of 1583 respondents thought offering the visiting team the option to bowl first was a good idea, which, given the reaction to a recent high-profile vote, is tantamount to unanimity. Shaun Alexander Jersey . Listen to the game live on TSN Radio 1050 at 7pm et. The Raptors traded Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings on Monday, in exchange for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes. Marquise Blair Youth Jersey . The No. 1-ranked Nadal tweaked his back warming up for the Australian Open final, which he lost almost four weeks ago in a major upset against Stanislas Wawrinka. His first stop after the layoff is the clay in Rio as he tests the back and tries to stay healthy for the French Open in three months. http://www.seahawksfansofficial.com/richard-sherman-jersey/ . The team also announced Tuesday that the Braves will wear a commemorative patch on the right sleeve during the season. The patch, shaped like home plate, carries the number 715, Aarons autograph and a "40th Anniversary" banner. Patrick Kerney Seahawks Jersey . Fellow centre Pavel Datsyuk remains out because of a concussion. Zetterberg has 11 goals and 19 assists for a team-high 30 points, and Datsyuk has a team-high 12 goals and 11 assists. Phil Haynes Seahawks Jersey . The incident occurred at 19:56 of the second period of the Kings 4-2 road win over Edmonton on Sunday. Nolan punched Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu in the jaw in front of the Kings goal during a scrum.World record holder Georgina Hermitage says it is essential she maintains her fitness if she is to bring home gold from this summers Paralympic Games in Rio. Hermitage, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has previously struggled with injury - a stress fracture in her foot saw her miss most of 2014 including the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea. Last June the 400m para-athlete broke the world record in the T-37, running an impressive one minute 2.70 seconds, two seconds faster than the previous world record which had stood since 2000. She went on the beat her own mark when knocking 22/100ths off her time at the Olympic Park in London four weeks later.For me its all about staying injury free because of the nature of the disability Im so susceptible,, said Hermitage.ddddddddddddI cannot do too much track training because of my foot, bio-mechanically it is not strong so it will just stress fracture if I pound the track too much on it.We are not going to change much up from what we did last year, so we are just going to keep it the same. We dont need to work any harder because if we start working harder thats when things are going to snap and break.Im just listening to my body and I think the times will come. I think I need a little more race experience and Ill probably start racing in able-bodied races and that will start pushing me further. Also See: Results & Medal Table Photo Galleries Team GB ' ' '