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."

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