India in Australia 2011-12 February 2, 2012

Celebrate Warner's switch-hitting - David Hussey


David Warner's remarkable switch-hitting ability should be celebrated and not banned, according to his team-mate David Hussey. In the third over of Wednesday's Twenty20 against India, the left-hander Warner changed his batting stance as R Ashwin was releasing a delivery, and he muscled an enormous six with a right-handed grip over what would have been deep extra cover.

Under the laws of the game Warner's move was perfectly legal, even though a bowler must tell the umpire if he is bowling with a different hand, or switching between over and around the wicket. Similarly, a fieldsman cannot deceive the batsman by significantly changing his position as the bowler runs in.

Switch-hitting has been an issue in the past, when Kevin Pietersen mastered the stroke and said that he felt it was such a high-risk shot that bowlers were not disadvantaged. Hussey said Warner practised the shot regularly in the nets and that he could become a pioneer of the style, and there was no reason the stroke should not be allowed in Test cricket as well.

"I think it's innovative," Hussey said. "Dave is a very classy player, he can bat right-handed or left-handed. It's just a new invention of Twenty20 cricket and I think it definitely should be allowed. I think everything is snowballing from Twenty20 cricket. You see [Test] run-rates up to four or five an over now, so you never know, a switch hit in Test cricket, maybe to bring up a double-hundred in a day.

"I think you can [adapt to it]. You see in baseball there are people who bat both sides of the plate so there's no reason why you can't do it in cricket. Davey is probably a pioneer. Hopefully a few of the younger kids coming through can work at those skills."

As opposed to the reverse-sweep, which is often played with the hands still in their starting position on the handle of the bat, Warner's switch-hit involved a complete change of stance and hand position. When Ashwin ran in, Warner was a left-hand batsman, but as he released the ball, the batsman had become a right-hander.

Aside from the issues of fairness to the bowler and fielders, the move raises questions over umpiring, and whether wides and lbws should be adjudicated based on the original stance or the new position when the shot was played. They are the sort of grey areas that could frustrate Warner's opponents, and even Hussey conceded it was hard bowling to him.

"Dave does it to me in the nets all the time and it's frustrated me, so I beamed him," Hussey said. "I tried to hit him in the head and it didn't go down very well. We had a bit of a falling out for a couple of moments there."

Hussey said if he was bowling in a match and saw the batsman change position early enough, the best move would be to "aim at his toes so he can't swing and get into his arc".

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manesh on February 3, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    I am not arguing to ban it....but all who supported the switch hit may explain - Do you support the bowler to bowl that ball out side offstump or outside legstump without calling it as a wide.? And do you support the argument that the LBW should be given where ever ball pitched in that particular case? It is not fair to penalize bowlers in that case, isn't it??

  • Philip on February 3, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    To make a footy analogy - I barrack for a team who, when I was young, had a champion who was my favourite player. We'll call him " 29". Now "29" would bounce the ball when he was tackled and get a free kick. He did it all the time. It was perfectly legal according to the rules of the game as they were. But the other clubs got so sick of it, the rules were changed so that a free was given against "29" whenever he did it. And this rule still exists, decades later. It took "29" a while to adapt, but he surely did. So the question remains, why didn't everyone else just copy him instead of complaining about the rules? Because they couldn't or because they didn't really want to? Or a mixture of both? Just because something is within the current laws, doesn't mean to say it should remain always so for the best interests of the game. "29" proved he could play under the new rule. I'm sure Warner will still hit T20 sixes batting right-handed after instructing the bowler he is facing up that way.

  • Philip on February 3, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    @meety, mate, I'd say a switch hit does rather make a mockery of the lbw and wide laws for a start as they are currently written. I do not understand how one could rationally argue otherwise. It certainly makes a mockery of the spirit of the laws. As for bowlers switching hands/arms in the run up, has anyone really tried to bowl off the opposite foot? I do naturally, but I can't suddenly swap and bowl left-arm off the same foot. The best a bowler could do is bowl from the penultimate step, about level with the stumps, otherwise he'd have to start a step before his mark and hope it works. Even then, would it make as much difference as a switch hit? I doubt it. If a switch hit is to be allowed at the point of release, then change the rules on wides and lbws to give the poor bowler a fair go. That's all we should want - a balance between bat and ball. Whether its Warner, KP or whoever switch-hitting at the last moment, it isn't cricket otherwise.

  • Harris on February 3, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    As KP said, it is such a high risk shot, it actually increases bowler's chances to get a wicket!

  • j on February 3, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    Pietersen invented the shot and wowed the world with it about 6years ago. Australia are years behind England, as we've seen in the recent Ashes.

  • Roo on February 3, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    All these silly comments about bowlers being limited is bewildering... They can bowl the ball from anywhere within the return crease which is 1.3metres wide & drop it from 10 metres short of the batsman to up to hip height on the popping crease... Seems to me that bowlers have a far greater range of movement with the ball than do batsmen facing it... As far as switch-hitting goes, it takes a brave & confident man to perform that with any degree of effectiveness - more power to the batsmen...

  • Naresh on February 3, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    @rahulcrciket007 - Indian bowlers are regarded as fodder to other teams outside the subcontinent. Our pace is likeable (just right), shorter length - the number of runs scored is just too much - only Yadav is capable of pitching up. Our fielding lets the opposition take early advantage. We only have some good spinners quality. In our batting ranks we have some capability. Yes Warner is good clean hitter, but I dont think he could do it against other good pace attacks. Indians give too much leeway and hence the batsman gain in confidence that even our spinners become fodder. We need a pacey bowler like ATUL SHARMA.

  • Peter on February 3, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    I hope some people commenting here have actually played the game and understand the intricies. A batsmen walks down the the track as a bowler you adjust your line and length. He changes his stance you adjust again. A bowler changing hands covertly is not even practical and is not allowed and would probably upset his own rhythm more than the batsmen. Inovation in scoring shots is a brilliant advent that should be applaued not critisized, this coming via an ex bowler! Warner nor Pieterson invented these shots, they are just good at excuting them as is Morgan. Love it, great to enhance the game.

  • Karl on February 3, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    must laugh at those comments saying a bowler cannot swich hands... would like to see if the batter picks up the difference with the ball spraying around!! Mitchell Johnson may bowl straighter if he tried using the other arm!! Just imagine the treat of a delivery coming down!!

  • DINESH on February 3, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    It is the shot introduced by Duglous Marrilier of Zimbabwe way back in 2005. He is the master of that shot

  • No featured comments at the moment.