Switch hit: A fair stroke or another unfair advantage for the batsmen?

David Warner

Switch hit is cricket’s modern-day manifestation whose art is often imputed to the legendary Kevin Pietersen. It is a shot which comes in contrast with the reverse sweep wherein apart from their change in stance there’s an alteration in the grip which effectively allows a batsman to change from being a right-hander to a left-hander and vice versa.

Although the shot has been declared as legitimate by the ICC back in June 2012, over the years it has been facing constant scrutiny that too exclusively from the likes of former Aussie captain Ian Chappell who has routinely expressed his profound views on various issues of the game.

Tipping the balance towards batsmen

Chappell again took a fresh dig on the shot when Glenn Maxwell did switch hit Kuldeep Yadav’s delivery for a 100 meter six by calling the short as illegal and has asked for its abolishment. His robust stand on why the shot needs to be prohibited has thus captivated a lot of attention in the cricketing fraternity.

Another Australian legend Shane Warne has also spoken in support of Chappell’s statement by saying  “As a bowler, we have to nominate what hand we’re bowling with, and what side of the wicket we’re bowling with. “I’m setting a field to a right-hand batsman, so now when they switch-hit, I’m actually bowling to a left-hand batsman. I’m not sure I like it. It’s worth a discussion, worth a debate to work out what’s the right thing. Maybe the bowler can run up behind the umpire and bowl over or around.”

Chappell’s stand was also well backed by Harsha Bhogle who firmly believes that the shot completely becomes illegitimate when the batsman changes his grip which then makes the field setting look completely useless. Further, he also opined that if a right-handed batsman has the liberty to become a left-handed batsman then a right arm bowler should be allowed to run in and bowl left-handed too.

Backing the skill

However, some former cricketers do disagree when it comes to the prohibition of the shot as they feel that switch hit is elusive craftsmanship whose mastery cannot be attained by any or every batsman. Hence, it’s an astonishing skill which can only be played if one upholds a superb proposition of hand-eye coordination.

All in all, the appeal of banning a switch hit also comes from a sentiment where the modern-day game has been already overtaxing the bowlers in the form of a number of field restrictions along with power plays and bouncing curtailments and the allowance of switch hit means further decimation of the bowlers.

However, there’s a proposed solution which can not only keep the switch alive but also restores some proportions of balance for a bowler i.e making minor tweaks in the LBW and the Wide law wherein both the sides will be considered as offsides and a decision for calling a Wide ball or an LBW will be taken on that which eliminates the equation of pitching outside leg.