If the switch-shot is approved then why not the switch-arm, asks Makarand Waingankar

MCC is the custodian of the Laws of cricket. That the usually conservative members of MCC have approved the switch-shot of Kevin Pietersen is hard to fathom, but having done so the debate now is whether bowlers should be permitted for a switch-arm.

Suddenly there is a surge of ambidextrous players. If they, coaches say, can practice the switch-arm, things could be very difficult for batsmen. This was exhibited by a medium pacer and the batsman had no clue.

The Law forbids a bowler from bowling with the unannounced arm and side of the wicket after informing the umpire prior to the delivery. Bowling such a delivery constitutes a no-ball.

Now with the switch-shot approval, the bowling fraternity even at the club level rightfully feels that the ICC, which is getting dragged more into the non-cricketing issues, must take up the matter with MCC.

According to David Richardson, General Manager, Cricket, ICC, clarifications have been sought from MCC regarding the switch-arm bowling whether any Law could be amended to even things up between batsmen and bowlers.

To say that the switch-shot is exciting and has to be encouraged is a viewpoint for debate. It will further tilt the balance of the game in favour of the batsmen. The major difference between the reverse sweep and switch-shot is the change of the grip and that should not be allowed.

Hurdles to cross

The amendment to the Laws of the game indicates that bowlers have more hurdles to cross getting 10 batsmen out than the batsmen scoring and surviving against the bowlers. No one objected to reverse sweep shot or the scoop shot over the wicketkeeper’s head as it didn’t force the batsman to change the grip. Switch-shot is absolutely illegal.

The logical point is that when a captain sets a field for a right hand batsman, for a switch-shot the field remains the same but the positioning is wrong. If this is exciting, then a bowler switching his arm should be exciting too. In fact, the drill shown by a bowler pivoting the lower half of the body is not only difficult but could cause serious back problem. Innovations have to be encouraged, but MCC has to be concerned about its effect on the game. To a viewer, any innovation from a batsman is welcome as it adds value to entertainment. The Laws for the bowlers need to be amended so that they could make the game more interesting and exciting. Bowlers creating situations with innovations will test the skills of the batsmen like Pietersen. Till then, the game will remain totally one-sided.

T20 is a launching pad for innovations not only in skill-implementation but in strategy-management. Shorter the version, more the chances of innovations. Laws of the game should ensure that innovations are referred to MCC less frequently and the umpires are fully equipped to deal with them.

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