The India Vs South Africa Test in Ranchi witnessed a very peculiar sight just before the toss. Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket team skipper and Faf du Plessis, the South Africa skipper came out for the toss as always. However, accompanying the South Africa captain was Temba Bavuma, the team's vice-captain and the designated 'proxy captain' for the toss. Bavuma was given the chance to call the toss as Faf du Plessis had a horrible record with tosses in Asia, losing nine consecutive times before the Ranchi Test. However, Bavuma had no luck as South Africa lost the toss and India chose to bat on a pitch that would assist the spinners.
Du Plessis, in the pre-match press conference, had stated that he might send someone else for the toss in Ranchi. "Probably we will change... send someone else to the toss tomorrow. I can give you that... because my records so far has not been great." After losing the toss, du Plessis admitted that there was nothing else he could do.
"It shows that it isn't meant to be (about using Bavuma as a proxy skipper for luck). Important toss as this looks the driest surface of the series," du Plessis rued.
However, this was not the first time that a special 'proxy captain' was appointed for the toss in a cricket match. During the recent Women's Twenty20 International series between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney, Australia skipper Meg Lanning appointed Alyssa Healy as a "specialist coin tosser." The move came after Lanning's poor toss record in the previous series against the West Indies, winning just one toss. The move worked and Australia won the toss and chose to bat against Sri Lanka.
For Du Plessis, this was the second instance when he had appointed someone else for the toss. In October 2018, during South Africa's game against Zimbabwe, du Plessis sent out JP Duminy for the toss. Duminy was not playing but he was appointed as du Plessis had a similar horror losing streak of six consecutive tosses. Duminy won the toss and South Africa dominated Zimbabwe.
The ICC's playing regulations mandate time of the coin toss. It adds that it has to be done on the field of play and under the supervision of the ICC Match Referee, but they also allow for a deputy to act for the captain if they are "not available".