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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Cricket Columns

Switch hit or not, ICC must provide clarity in its rulings
Aakash Chopra, Hindustan Times
April 08, 2012
First Published: 23:34 IST(8/4/2012)
Last Updated: 23:37 IST(8/4/2012)

Even though it’s believed Pakistan batsman Mushtaq Mohammad was the first to play the reverse-sweep back in 1970s, it took an eternity for this extravagant shot to be a part of the modern cricketer's repertoire. Even in the current era, only a handful of batsmen have managed to master this tough and risky stroke.. It takes a lot of effort to make your arms/hands work in a completely opposite direction to the one you practice each day - which is bottom hand following the top hand. It's only while playing the reverse sweep that the bottom hand initiates the action, playing the dominant role while the top hand is forced to get involved too.

As if playing the reverse sweep wasn't already too tough, Kevin Pietersen took the stroke to an unimaginable level. He would switch the hands, which meant the top hand became the bottom hand and vice-versa. Then he would hop and jump to switch his stance completely. In short, the right-handed Pietersen while attempting a switch-hit became a southpaw. Considering the complexity in executing such a shot, it's plausible to assume it could only be tried against a spinner, but KP managed to switch-hit the medium pace of Scott Styris too, for a six. 

TOO CLOSE TO CALL
As expected ICC also took notice of this invention and decided to legitimise the shot provided the movement happened after the bowler got into his delivery stride. The ICC was correct because like a bowler isn't allowed to use the other arm at the last moment, a batsman isn't allowed to change his guard after the bowler gets into his bowling stride. Yet, to judge whether the batsman switched hands a moment before or after the bowler got into his bowling stride is too tough to gauge.

Perhaps, it's time to make an exception to this rule. If someone is willing to risk his wicket by switching, it's only fair to allow him to continue flirting with danger. In the second Test match between Sri Lanka and England, Tillakaratne Dilshan stopped in his bowling stride when he saw Pietersen switching hands in the grip. Subsequently, KP and England were warned they would be docked 5 penalty runs.

It won’t be a bad idea to allow batsmen to continue with their overtures with the exception of treating them as southpaws if a right-handed batsman attempts it and vice versa for a left-hander. That way the bowler will have a fair chance of getting even.

The former India opener plays for Rajasthan in the Ranji trophy


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