England v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Chester-le-Street June 16, 2008

Pietersen defends switch-hitting

Cricinfo staff

An ambidextrous Kevin Pietersen peppers the on-side boundary in a style known best only to him © Getty Images

After executing two breathtaking reverse-sweep sixes during his match-winning unbeaten 110 against New Zealand in the first one-dayer in Chester-le-Street, Kevin Pietersen has strongly rejected the notion that such innovative strokes should be outlawed in cricket.

Pietersen took on Scott Styris on both occasions, switching his grip to that of a left-hander and pre-meditating the stroke even before the ball was delivered. The first, in the 39th over, landed over deep backward point and the second, in the 43rd, was deposited over long-off. Though the reverse-sweep has been in existence for decades now, Pietersen has taken it to greater heights, after first unveiling the reverse-sweep six in 2006, off Muttiah Muralitharan in a Test at Edgbaston.

Pietersen's strokes were different from the conventional reverse-sweep because he changed his grip before the bowler delivered, effectively making him a left-handed batsman. Since a bowler isn't allowed to change his bowling hand without informing the umpire, some have suggested that the same should apply to the batsmen. Pietersen however disagreed and urged everyone to embrace innovation positively.

"That's ridiculous," Pietersen said after England's comprehensive 114-run win. "Absolutely stupid. The reverse-sweep has been part of the game for however long. I am just fortunate that I am able to hit it a bit further.

"Everybody wants brand new ideas, new inventions and new shots. That is a new shot played today and people should be saying it's a new way to go. There are new things happening for cricket at the moment and people shouldn't be criticising it all the time."

Pietersen said he had visualised the shot the previous night, and the fact that he did it twice had his non-striker, Paul Collingwood, gasping.

"I practise it, I visualise it, I go through routines in the nets," he said. "It is just an option. The boundary was miles out on the leg side so I thought the other boundary was the way forward. There was only one man out there and there are normally three out on the leg side.

"I covered my eyes as soon as he turned his body around," Collingwood said. "I was quite surprised and I went 'Oh no' but he smashed it. In fact he smashed it twice. He did actually come up the wicket and say 'I was thinking about that in bed last night,' so at least we know the visualisation was there."

The opposing captain, Daniel Vettori, however, suggested that bowlers should get some respite in such instances and be able to fire deliveries past the pads without it being called a wide. "To even it up, bowlers should be able to bowl down both sides of the wide line," Vettori said. "Then it brings your skill into play."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bendapudi on June 20, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    There is something new in everything and very few try out these in any feild. KP is a master technician at this. Please right now he is one the top three entertainers in the game and he has that niche of pulling odd thing out. Like the reverse sweep six of MM or lions on his shoulder or that dyed hair. He is a marvelous guy and he is outstanding. This wasn't there in the book anyway and how many players have many a out of book shots. R'ber the scoop over wicket keeper. Guys think it this way , KP is ready to scarifice his wicket by playing this shot and he did manage to open many a mouths in awe. Cheers to KP, he is the IN GUY now in world cricket. He is an entertainer and let him entertain the cricket world. Hats off to KP and MCC for supporting this stroke in all thier authority.

    Love u KP & Cricinfo.

  • SN on June 18, 2008, 16:47 GMT

    This is good for entertainment but not for the fairness for the game. My simple question is: whether they are going to allow bowlers to switch arms during the run up? I guess that the answer is no, cause it is against the rules. If a bowler switches his hand, that will cause a trouble to the batsaman. No argument of that and the rule supports the fairness. The situation is the same for bowlers. Where is the fairness for bowlers? Are you valuing only batsmen? Are you going to bowl using the same lenght, width and the angle for right-handers and the left-handers. If someone says so would support the Pieterson's trial. If someone who is no so stupid should oppose the case.

  • Michael on June 18, 2008, 14:33 GMT

    Why do batsmen always be treated differently to bowlers? If there is a rule mandating a bowler to state when he's changing his bowling arm, Then a simialr rule should be instituted for batsmen. Let both batsman and bowler be given equal regulations. I wonder if it was a smaller cricketing nation such as a Zimbabwe batsman doing the same thing to an English bowler in a very close game what the response would have been from MCC? Beware England, u have an uncanny ability to implement regulations that will return to haunt you.

  • Vijit on June 18, 2008, 11:49 GMT

    I believe KP is right in his way to defend this shot which will in all probabilities enrich the game of cricket - a game which has become very very popular since the advent of the T20 and the recently all successful IPL tournaments. Vettori's asking respite for bowlers and demanding leniency by umpires in such switch grip shots is rightful as well.

  • Graham on June 18, 2008, 9:31 GMT

    The reason given for this shot not being outlawed was that it made the game more exciting. How long will it be allowed if the bowler stops in his delivery stride and the captain of the fielding team then resets his field for the left handed batsman (very slow cricket equls boring). I would also like to point out to the person who wrote this article and Kevin Pietersen that the shot was not a reverse sweep but if fact a full blooded left handed pull shot.

  • James Floremce on June 18, 2008, 9:12 GMT

    Hi all... maybe this has already come up but i don't think it has... I don't actually think KP is the first player to try this switch hit shot. I seem to remember Darren Gough back in about 1994 switched leftie against Pakistan, on a rare occassion when he scored 50 odd in a test (bit hazy on detail)! I defo remember giving it a go the next day at school, missed and got a stern talking to from the cricket master!

  • Shreekar on June 18, 2008, 8:58 GMT

    Pietersen says that "That is a new shot played today and people should be saying it's a new way to go." ha ha..apparently he hasn't seen videos of Kris Srikant executing the same shot in his day or Gavaskar talking about it in commentary years ago!!! He is a gifted batsman and can execute it , but to call it a new invention is taking it a tad to far ( in the language of cricinfo commentators)

  • Srinivasan on June 18, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    I will go with Daniel Vettori. If you give equal preference to all then there would be a definite fight. But you cant do that. So at least we can stop the batsmen changing grips before the ball being bowled.

  • Manish on June 18, 2008, 7:15 GMT

    No problem at all.....because whatever it is it makes cricket exciting....

    I am completely with KP on the issue...

  • waheed on June 18, 2008, 6:00 GMT

    There is nothing wrong in the sweep shot, if the batsman using this reverse sweep once in a while, but if the batsman use the reverse sweep more often than something has to be done. One cannot take advantage of bowlers limitations. I am a right hand bowler and can deceive a batsman by bowling at the last moment with my left hand. Have to keep a close eye on this situation and act accordingly. Regarding the wide on the leg side has to be relaxed a little, it is very harsh on the bowler. When a batsman can reverse sweep than a little bit of relaxation is to be done on wide ball (leg side).

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