Should Switch-Hitting Be Legal?

Posted on: 23 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

England’s star cricketer Kevin Pietersen was embroiled in a bizarre debate earlier this week after his “switch hitting” came under fire from the ICC.

The ICC asked the MCC to look into whether Pietersen’s shots contravened any of the game’s laws.

The 27-year-old inspired England to a fine ODI victory over New Zealand but his shots became the subject of huge debate within the game.

Pietersen launched two left-handed shots high into the Riverside crowd off Scott Styris’ bowling during his explosive century at Durham but in doing so he switched his grip and his stance to become left-handed.

Although many batsmen hit the reverse sweep, the switch-hit takes it a step further.

The MCC met to discuss various laws but gave the all clear to the switch-hit, stating it was perfectly legal.

They cited the variations bowlers can make, such as bowling a googly or a slower ball in the justification of their decision.

Pietersen had played a similar shot against Sri Lanka back in 2006 and was delighted with the news, claiming it was a good decision for cricket and adds extra excitement to the game.

“I’m very pleased by the MCC’s decision and I think it’s the right one, not just for me or England but the game as a whole,” says Pietersen.

“It’s important that we as players are innovative and if this shot helps make cricket more exciting and entertaining for spectators then that has to be good for the sport."

“I don’t agree with the argument that it’s unfair on the bowlers. It’s an extremely high risk shot and there will be plenty of bowlers out there who will think that it gives them a great opportunity to get me out."

“But overall I’m glad that the MCC have recognised that cricket is always evolving and that this particular shot brings something special to the game."

“I’ve spent many hours in the nets working on it and I’m pleased that all the hard work is not going to waste.”

Even New Zealand have backed Pietersen’s efforts – including bowler Styris who saw two of his deliveries smashed over the boundary from the left-handed England batsman.

Styris praised Pietersen’s innovation and said he even thought about a go during his own innings but thought better of it.

"There's nothing wrong with what he's doing," Styris says.

"As a bowler you have to think on your feet but it's nothing different to a guy coming down the wicket at you."

"Sometimes you just have to take your hat off and say 'well played'. We all admire good cricket and I think that is what it was."

"It crossed my mind briefly when I was out there (batting) to play it but if I would have got out it would have been a double blow."

Should Kevin Pietersen’s shot be legal? What repercussions could the MCC’s decision have on the game? Is it a skill or an effective tool to confuse the bowler? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.

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