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    June 18, 2008

    Kevin Pietersen could end up changing the rules

    The MCC has announced that it will be considering today whether switch-hitting was within the laws.

    Unless you are in outer space, you'd know by now that Kevin Pietersen, in the first ODI against New Zealand, reverse-hit (not reverse-swept!) Scott Styris twice (Video & Photos) over the infield. I'm using a generic 'infield' description since he actually hit it over mid-wicket and long-on, but since Pietersen is a right-handed batsmen, it was actually cover and long-off.

    There's obviously a lot of chatter going around about whether it is fair for a batsman to do so when the bowler can't change his bowling arm midway, etc. There're counter-examples as well: bowlers don't tell batsmen they're going to bowl a slower ball while at the same time batsmen don't tell bowlers they're going to smack them over extra cover (Actually, I take that back. Some do!).

    Is such innovation good for the game? Should it be allowed? Will the game progress or regress? Despite my hating Kevin Pietersen (there's something about him that I hate, I just can't say exactly what), I think he's going to end up changing the rules, for the better.

    My belief is that batsmen should be allowed to switch-hands and play shots. But to counter that, the lbw and wide rules need to be changed such that if a batsman while playing a reverse hit misses and gets hit on the pad, he can be given out lbw even though in his normal batting stance it may not have been lbw. Similarly, if the batsman misses since the ball was far away, unless it was ridiculously wide, umpires should not be calling it a wide.

    Let's take two hypothetical scenarios and a real one.If the rules are changed to ensure that bowlers aren't worse off, then I am of the belief that such change is good. Batsmen keep inventing new strokes (Ranji's leg glance, Hanif's reverse sweep, Compton sweeping faster bowlers, Kanhai's falling sweep, Marillier's lap shot, etc.) and bowlers keep inventing new deliveries (Bosanquet's googly, Larwood & Jardine implementing leg-theory, Jack Iverson's flicks, Ramadhin trying out a doosra, Waugh using slower balls, Harvey bowling back-of-the hand slower balls, etc.)

    Certainly, cricket has benefitted from these changes. These pioneers enabled others to experiment even more and perfect the changes. Andy Flower nearly perfected the reverse sweep while Saqlain did the same to the doosra. We may be seeing the emergence of ambidextrous players, like John Buchanan predicted in 2003.

    Let's say the MCC decided that it was not a legal shot if the batsman did not inform the umpires/bowler prior to playing the shot. What'd happen if a batsman played this shot without informing? Would the ball be declared a dead ball? If so, what if the bowler had actually bowled him? Would he be declared out? If it wasn't a dead ball, would the batsman be ruled out (maybe the MCC decides to add this under some 'Confusing the opposition' genre of dismissals)?

    The main problem so far has been that bat technology has progressed more rapidly compared to ball technology, thus increasing the mismatch between bat and ball. It is something that definitely needs to be addressed soon.

    In summary, I support changes to the laws to allow batsmen to switch their stance and hit the ball, as long as umpires don't penalize bowlers (by ruling wide or not giving lbw decisions) if the batsmen missed the ball.

    This seems like a fascinating topic to have a discussion on.

    Update: The MCC has, thankfully, ruled that the stroke conforms to the laws. In addition, the release also mentions that since this has implications on the laws governing wides (25) and lbws (36), further research will be done. I wonder why there is no mention of law 41 which deals with calling a no-ball if there are more than 2 leg side fielders aside from the wicket keeper behind the popping crease.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 12:15 pm |
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    2 sledge(s):

    Hi there! Nice blog man! Would you consider exchanging links?

    By Blogger Cricket freak (18-Jun-2008, 12:09:00 pm)  

    I think the shot should not be allowed. Further distorts the playing field in favor of the batsman. I have linked Harsha's article on my blog. Check it out !

    By Blogger Nigel Legin (28-Jul-2008, 6:30:00 pm)  

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