Bangalore, May 11: It is becoming increasingly frustrating for bowlers when a batsman resorts to switch-hitting. Is this unfair? Yes, feel most of the experts and want this stroke to be outlawed.
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the Guardians of the Laws of cricket, in 2008, gave an all clear to the controversial switch-hit after England batsman Kevin Pietersen brought out that shot against New Zealand in an ODI.
Since then, Pietersen and few other batsmen, have achieved great success with that shot. Australia left-hander David Warner is the other main batsman who uses the switch-hit with ease.
Both Pietersen and Warner generate so much power with this shot that they have cleared the boundary with minimum fuss.
There is difference between switch-hit and a reverse hit. While the former is a result of a batsman changing his grip completely, the latter is played without changing hands on the bat handle.
For example, if a right-hander is batting, he turns into a left-hander with a change in stance, to play a switch-hit and vice versa for a left-hander.
Recently, International Cricket Council has decided to amend the LBW laws to rule a batsman out when he is attempting a switch-hit. This is definitely a welcome change and good news for bowlers.
According to the present rules, a batsman cannot be given out LBW if a ball pitches outside the legstump. But, if a batsman is attempting to play a stroke by changing his stance, an umpire can lift his finger for LBW even if the ball has pitched outside legstump.
ICC Cricket Committee will deliberate on this rule change and it might come into effect soon. That would keep the batsmen in check.
Already, the game of cricket is loaded heavily in favour of the batsmen. And it is totally unfair to make the bowlers suffer more by allowing switch-hits.
Imagine a situation where a right-hand bowler runs in and suddenly hurls the ball with his left hand. That definitely is not permitted.
Before a bowler starts to bowl, he needs to inform the umpire what he is going to bowl. He has to make sure that he tells the umpire whether he is right-handed or left-handed. That further is conveyed to the batsman.
MCC did argue that switch-hit is a difficult shot and required great skill. They added that it provided a bowler more chance of taking wickets.
On the bowlers informing about mode of delivery, MCC feels they do not tell what they are going to bowl, whether it is offbreak, legbreak or slower ball.
All these points are valid. Switch-hit is an innovation from batsmen but at the same time it is necessary to provide a level playing field. That is what a sport is all about. It should be fair to all parties, here batsmen and bowlers.
Recently, umpires had to warn Pietersen twice as he attempted to change his stance before Sri Lankan bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan ran into bowl. Dilshan, spotting Pietersen's tactics, decided not to bowl.
In 2010, ICC had issued a directive stating that umpires can warn a batsman for changing stance before the bowler enters his delivery stride. They can also impose five runs penalty for a repeat after the first warning.
It would be right for ICC to amend the LBW law and prevent batsmen from trying the switch-hit. That would at least mean some solace for already battered bowlers around the world.