Crio’s Q: Home Ground Advantage or Toss?

As South Australia demolished the Bushrangers at Adelaide Oval in their “BIG BASH”, I posed to Tom – what has the greater bearing on a game’s outcome; the toss or home ground advantage?

He plumped for the local “dung heap”.

The stats don’t support him. Whilst only half of the home sides have won thus far this tournament, the toss winner remains undefeated?

How do the toss and home advantage impact on various sports? When have they been decisive? And which is the more crucial?


  1. Cricket: the toss seems to be crucial — as we’ve seen this summer. The footy codes: home ground is (very) important in the bigger leagues and the toss seems largely functional — though I guess there will be local conditions and contexts where the toss is vital.

  2. There is clearly a home ground (home crowd) advantage even in sports where the ground and ground(court, pitch)surface is uniform. The home ground advantage is much stronger in sports where the grounds are non standard and the surfaces differ.

    In Australian Rules Football, while there are economic and crowd size advantages in ground rationalisation the former VFL clubs lost significant home ground advantages when they lost their suburban grounds. Essendon and Footscray benefitted from difficult wind conditions at Windy Hill and Western Oval. Melbourne and (pre1970s) Hawthorn benefitted from having the largest and smallest grounds. Collingwood and St Kilda benefitted from the surfaces of Victoria Park and Moorabbin.

    In Cricket, the difference in surfaces is obvious. The difference in size also used to be relevant but the tendency to place rope boundaries inside the real boundaries of the ovals, while a sound idea in terms of player safety, has also lead to standardisation and lessened the advantages of grounds like the Adelaide Oval.

    In tennis Australia used to have strong home ground advantage in terms of grass court experience and I wonder if the decline in Australian tennis can be linked to the decision to replace Kooyong grass with a hard court surface at Flinders Park. Eventually most of the other top tennis venues around Australia followed Melbourne’s lead and retired their grass courts.

    The toss is obviously important in cricket, but if you can’t play spin winning the toss won’t help you in India and if you can’t handle extreme pace winning the toss won’t help you at the Gabba or the WACA.

  3. Tennis is, of course, the really interesting coin toss. The winner gets to choose service – that always meant serve until the insecure recent rash of electing to receive! – whilst the loser of the toss gets to choose ends.

  4. Crio, I remember Borg choosing to receive in a Wimbledon final against McEnroe. He won the game thereby getting off to a great start. It can also be read as a way of being confident, challenging your opponent to keep his or her serve.

  5. Unfathomable in old grass court OZ!
    Regarding home ground (court) advantage, I reckon it is very low when it gets tinkered.
    I do not rate Davis Cup at all – but was so pleased when australia layed indoor grass and lost. The tennis solution in this unimportant scenario is for whatever surface decides the National Championship to be applicable to International Competitions.

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