side which bats second has to go in when the light is bad in the late afternoon of the first day, loses several good wickets, and is all out by lunch-time on the second. The fact is, that in most cases the side that bats first has the best of the bargain in every way.
The gist of the whole matter, as far as the captain is concerned, is, that there is only one case where it pays to put the other side in. This is when the wicket is drying under a hot sun, and is sticky, and is likely to remain so just long enough to get the batting side or a good part of it out; in other words, when the wicket is as difficult as it ever can be, but may perhaps get easier. Even when the wicket is sticky it is not always good policy to put the other side in; for if there are reasonable prospects of its remaining difficult for a considerable time, it pays to go in first and avoid the fourth innings. My advice is: if in doubt, take first innings.
Here we may leave the captain to go and toss with his opponent for choice of innings. He should be in a position to decide directly the result of the spin of the coin is ascertained, so that if he wins he can give his first two batsmen enough time to get ready in comfort, or, should he put the other side in, can collect his men ready to take the field punctually.
Just before tossing, the home captain should, if he has not done it already, come to a definite agreement with the visiting captain as to the precise time for luncheon, for drawing stumps, and for beginning play the next day. The value of boundaries, too, should be settled. Even when there are fixed rules or, customs peculiar to the ground, and generally known and accepted, it is as well to make quite sure that all the points are clearly understood. The umpire, too, should be informed of what the two captains have decided on such points.
There is a humorous saying, that a captain's supreme duty is to win the toss. Unfortunately no coin can be made to consistently behave as desired, so there is nothing to do but go and toss and accept your luck. People have tales about lucky sixpences and lucky ways of tossing, but the fact remains that the chances are even. The only fact with a glimmer of science about it is to call tails, because the head-side of most coins is slightly the heavier, and therefore the more likely to fall undermost. In practice the coin seems to be fairly impartial as to vhether it falls on its head or on its tail. It is customary for the home captain to spin the coin, and the visiting captain to call.