Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Guardian Angels

How happy and thankful we should all be that the MCC is the guardian of the Laws of Cricket, and not the mindless, bureaucratic nightmare that is the ICC. The issue in question is the Pietersen "switch-hit," where he switches his grip from right-handed to left-handed as the ball is being delivered.

Of course, the ICC wanted to challenge this. After all, it's (*gasp*) inventive and exciting, so the ICC must step in! They asked the MCC to review the legality. And the MCC quickly comes up with such a sensible statement:
MCC believes that the 'switch-hit' stroke is innovative and exciting for the game of cricket. Indeed, the stroke conforms to the Laws of Cricket and will not be legislated against.
MCC believes that the 'switch-hit' stroke is a difficult shot to execute and that it incurs a great deal of risk for the batsman.

It also offers bowlers a good chance of taking a wicket and therefore MCC believes that the shot is fair to both batsman and bowler.

The MCC also answered a few of the critics, particularly those who feel bowlers are at a disadvantage since they can't switch style mid-run-up:
Furthermore, MCC acknowledges that while bowlers must inform umpires and batsmen of their mode of delivery (Law 24), they do not provide a warning of the type of delivery that they will send down (for example, an off-cutter or a slower ball).

It therefore concludes that the batsman should have the opportunity – should they wish – of executing the 'switch-hit' stroke.

Well, perhaps not the best analogy, since a batsman doesn't also indicate whether he's going to play a cut, a pull, a Misbah, etc. But still, the point is made - the batsman is taking a risk which is within his right, and the bowler also has an array of tools at his disposal to challenge the batsman.

And the MCC is realistic enough to acknowledge that there are implications for at least two laws - wides (ball going down the legside) and LBWs (ball pitching outside leg stump):
MCC accepts that the use of a 'switch-hit' may have implications for other Laws of the game, principally Law 25 (Wide ball) and Law 36 (LBW), and will continue to research and discuss these implications.

These areas have been referred to and will be researched and discussed by MCC's Laws Sub-Committee, which will next meet, at Lord's, on Tuesday 12 August.

Given the MCC's quick, decisive, and appropriate reaction to this issue, and the way they have preserved and adapted the laws for over two centuries, I am confident they will deal with it properly.

I'll end with a prayer: May the MCC remain forever the guardians of the sacred Laws of Cricket. And may an iota of their sensibility rub off on the ICC.

Make your pitch on this post...

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18 Pitched:

  1. Q said...

    Thank God for the MCC's sanity.

    I can't believe that the ICC actually requested the MCC to look into the "switch-hit" stroke...

    The only thing they should have asked the MCC to look into should have been the 'wide' and the 'LBW' rule, which now thankfully for the bowlers, the MCC will be doing.

    Pieterson's shots were quite amazing to say the least... I hope we see more of it in the future...

    It was John Buchanan who first talked about developing ambidextrous cricketers - he first talked of it after Australia won the 2003 world cup, and we're seeing the 1st one now... from England though...

    Buchanan's statement: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport3/cwc2003/hi/newsid_2880000/newsid_2885000/2885047.stm

  2. Som said...

    I'm not surely rejoicing at the MCC thumbs-up to the shot. Baning a shot sounds odd but I think the switch-hit puts the bowler to an obvious disadvantage. The bowler and his captain takes immense pain to set the
    field and it would surely go for a toss when KPs of the world execute this shot. But to pamper the spoilt batsmen, we have ruled to ensure that field setting is not disturbed without batsmen's knowledge. And fielders can't even change their place once the bowler is on his way to deliver the bowl. Cricket remains a batsman's game, but they should come up with more decent moves to do away with the bowlers.

  3. SledgeHammer said...

    @som: But how is this different from a reverse sweep? That has never raised controversy.

    The batsman's goal is to find the gaps in the field, and the switch-hit is one way of doing so.

    It's a bit of ingenuity, requires skill, and it's very risky as well. If the bowler catches the batsman trying it early, he can outfox him and has a great chance of getting the person out.

    I do agree that batsmen have been given priority over bowlers - no question about that at all. But bowlers should also get ingenious as well. Smart field placing, varying pace/line/length, etc. will all contribute to more effective bowling.

  4. Obaid said...

    Interesting write-up sledgehammer... good to see you writing here :)

    I think it will be interesting to see bowlers change which arm they deliver from on the fly. That would bring bowlers at par with batsmen doing switch hits. We already have players like Salman Butt who bat left handed but throw/bowl right handed. If they can also bowl a surprise ball from the other hand and off the other foot that would be cool.

    Or if you have people like Sohail Tanvir bowling off the wrong foot maybe they bowl from the other hand with the same essential action

  5. Gaurav Sethi said...

    I'm all for bowlers shifting from Left Arm Over to Right Arm Round or vice versa-as they still come thru the same side of the wicket.

    But what if a Left Arm Round bowler shifts to a Right Arm Round or vice versa - that would be tricky, no? - But i still won't put it in the same ballpark as KP's switch hit. But yes, the Left Arm Round to Right Arm Round or Left Arm over would be fun, tho bordering on chaos. See a lotta umpires being trampled upon.

    KP’s case, it’s outta the box, but not outta the book, is it? And finally, the further cricket moves away from that dreaded book, it will cease to be cricket. Maybe still likable, but not cricket. KP's case, mental, but still cricket.

  6. SledgeHammer said...

    Law 24.1 requires the bowler to state which arm they are going to bowl with, as well which side of the wicket they will bowl from. If they change it without notifying the umpire, it will be called a no-ball.

    I could see the law being changed to allow the bowler to switch arms at delivery time (e.g. from right-arm over to left-arm around).

    But for the bowler to change sides (e.g. from right-arm over to left-arm over) will be almost impossible since it would surely endanger the life of the non-striker!

  7. Viswanathan said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
  8. Viswanathan said...

    Surely, if a batsmen from the sub-continent started this he would have been called a 'cheat' and ICC will have intervened.

    BTW, I remember reading that Asif Iqbal started this.

    I have seen him play, but don't particularly recollect him playing a shot.

    Anyone has the facts?

  9. Anonymous said...

    Sledgehammer, what makes switch-hit different from reverse-sweep is the fact that here the batsman changes his stance as well, not only the grip and there lies my objection. I don't have problem with reversde sweeep even though it's probably the ugliest shot you come across. But in case of switch-hit, the right-handed KP turns left-hander, which means bowler pitchign the ball a foot outside off now runs the risk of bowling a wide delivery, because off is now leg and you know how little is the margin of error.

    You said, bowlers should also get ingenious and can go for smart field=lpacing. But see a bowler's plight now. Prompted by turn and bounce, he places a slip fielder and by the time he has release the ball, the slip has become leg slip!

    Whatever mate, I just cannot digest that. In fact I'm planning to give vent to my anger through a full-fledged post but just can't manage time...Maybe it's later today that MCC would come in for some harsh flaks...hahaha

  10. SledgeHammer said...

    @som: which means bowler pitchign the ball a foot outside off now runs the risk of bowling a wide delivery

    This is not necessarily true. Here's what the MCC said about it:

    Law 36.3 defines the off side of the striker’s wicket as being determined by the striker’s stance at the moment the bowler starts his run-up.

    So technically, offside and legside don't change with the switch. The opposite of what you said could be true - if a bowler sent something down the original legside (new offside), then would an umpire give as little margin?

    That's why the MCC has admitted that the laws around wides and lbws needs to be revisited.

  11. Q said...

    Ott I don't remember Asif Iqbal ever playing such a shot. The reverse sweep yes but never a grip swicth hit like the one Pieterson did.

    The reverse sweep in Pakistan dates all the way back to Hanif Mohammad and Mushtaq Mohammad.

    I believe it was used a lot in English county cricket too with the subcontinental people introducing it to the English.

  12. Q said...

    @ Som & Sledge

    My take on this is that the batsmen should definitely be allowed to do what Pieterson did.

    At the same time the bowler should also be allowed to deliver ither right handed or left handed from the side of the wicket he is bowling.

    Rules with respect to wides and LBW need to be revised.

  13. Q said...

    NC - bordering on chaos is also all this explanation of left arm over, right arm around, ;-)

    One question though - did KP hit the 6 over long on or long off? It was originally long off but when he switched to a lefty it became long on???

    What about the earlier one? Oer square leg or over point?

  14. Anonymous said...

    Sledgehammer, as you quoted Law 36.3, the off/on side is determined by the batter's stance
    AT THE MOMENT the bowler starts his run-up. But the issue is in case of switch-hit, the batsman is changing stance probably when the bowler is halfway through his run-up.
    My point is pretty simple, you don't allow the bowler change the field setting once he starts his run-up and still allow the batsman to hit bowler's field-setting for a six. And you still call it justice?

  15. Anonymous said...

    This is a freak. KP is a single figure handicap left-handed golfer.

    He'd been in for 90 balls and he was facing Styris.

  16. SledgeHammer said...

    A batsman's job is to find the gaps. Just like the reverse sweep, this is an inventive way of doing so. Grip or no grip, the reverse sweep totally plays with the field settings.

    For those purposes, if the reverse sweep is allowed, so should the switch-hit.

    For the purposes of wides and lbws, I can see where there are some concerns.

    BTW, one unfortunate result of the switch hit is that you will see is bowlers miscuing their runups if they see a batsman change stance mid-runup. While not sporting, it's totally legal.

    Also, I do think the bowler should be allowed to change the hand (but not side) of delivery. That will even things out quite a bit.

  17. Anonymous said...

    "Law 36.3 defines the off side of the striker’s wicket as being determined by the striker’s stance at the moment the bowler starts his run-up."

    So let's say KP takes a left-handed guard when the bowler starts running in, and the field has been set for this stance. He's then able to switch to his preferred stance as the bowler delivers. That doesn't seem right, but it would be permitted under the laws.

  18. Anonymous said...

    good sensible judgement

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