Pietersen's about-turn June 16, 2008

MCC meets to discuss improvisation

Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen turns improviser to smack Scott Styris for a left-handed six © Getty Images

The MCC, the guardians of cricket's laws, will discuss the legality of the shots played by Kevin Pietersen during the first ODI against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street when they meet at Lord's on Tuesday. In the course of his match-winning century, Pietersen twice switched his grip and stance to hit Scott Styris for six, essentially turning from a right to a left-hand batsman, while the bowler was approaching the crease.

A meeting to discuss issues such as grip changes and reverse-sweeps had been requested by the ICC last month before yesterday's events.

"The ICC has asked the MCC to look at it and make a recommendation," the MCC's Abi Carter told AP, adding that they had the power to make a recommendation within hours of meeting. An actual change to the laws, however, would need more consultation.

"Yes, it is on the agenda but it won't change overnight," an MCC spokesman told Cricinfo.

Pietersen was clear that he believed the strokes were quite legal. "Reverse-sweeps have been part of the game for however long," he said. "I am just fortunate that I can hit it a bit further. Everybody wants brand new ideas, new inventions and that's a new shot. Nobody has seen it before.

"There's new things happening to cricket at the moment and people are criticising all the time," he said. "There should just be positives about all the stuff that's happening."

Even Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's captain, approved. "It's amazing to see and I think it's really good for the game that batsmen have the skill to do that. The only thing I would say about it is that if you're going to bat left-handed then I think to even it up for the bowlers you should have both sides of the wide line. That would bring your skill into play and the wicketkeeper's skill into play, if a batsman wants to change then it should be fair for both ball and batsmen."

Not everyone at Chester-le-Street was convinced of the merits of the stroke however. The Guardian cricket correspondent, Mike Selvey - himself a former fast bowler - wrote: "Astounding and audacious strokes these may have been but there is something not quite right about their provenance. It poses a number of questions. Should the batsman be obliged to declare if he is playing right- or left-handed? The bowler has to. Vettori and the bowler would have wanted to change his field setting had he known of the reversal. Had Styris fired the ball away to the right of the stumps, would that have constituted a leg-side wide?

"And where does the umpire stand with the lbw law in all this?" asked Selvey. "Which is leg stump and which is off? Would a slip, a gully and backward point, say, constitute three men behind on the leg side and so render the delivery a no-ball? Given the early stage at which Pietersen revised his stance, Styris could have stopped his run-up and started again."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • aditya kumar on June 20, 2008, 15:44 GMT

    Alright, so now the shot has been legalised. Good. It deserved to be.

    But I have a question, which I feel is fair.

    Would it have been still made legal, if this high profile shot was played for the first time on an international stage, by a Batsman from West Indies or say the subcontinent against say England/Australia/South Africa.

    Its important to answer this question in vacuum without considering the fact that KP was the first guy to actually pull it off. I would have loved to see what the "Purists" at MCC had to say if a subcontinental/windies player actually played it the first. And what their verdict would have been.

  • omar on June 18, 2008, 9:37 GMT

    Every thing is done. First Styris endorses Pietersen switch hitting and then Pietersen was allowed to carry on reversing. I think this case was a piece of cake,even for a ten year boy because it was very simple but these MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club)guys make it to complicated but now it's done!!!

  • Simon on June 18, 2008, 2:45 GMT


    You are missing the point completely here. It is not a requirement for the bowler to tell the batsman what type of delivery he will bowl. A spin bowler can bowl whatever delivery he likes, just as a batsman can shape to come down the wicket and then change to a back foot shot mid delivery. Oh what a game cricket would become if the bowler had to say, Mr Pieterson, I am going to bowl you an off-spinner 3 inches outside off stump and give it plenty of flight.

    It is to do entirely with the batsman's stance before the delivery is bowled and the rules associated with what determines leg side and offside etc etc.

  • Chris on June 17, 2008, 14:01 GMT

    My take is that the reverse sweep and Pietersen's shot are very different because in the former the batsmen is trying to play the shot counter to the stance whereas the latter entails changing the stance while the bowler is running up. The problem is not so much in the shot but in the limitations placed on the fielding side by the fielding restrictions and the designation of which is the offside and which is the legside for both the LBW and wide decisions.

    Remove or modify the existing fielding restrictions and have an ODI rule which states that the offside and onside are designated by the stance of the batsmen at the moment of delivery rather than when it comes into play and let them have at it! It may be moot inasmuch as how many other people have the ability to change their stance? Although, as I read in someone's comment, right handers might take their guard left handed and then easily switch to their natural stance as the bowler is running up!!

  • Md. Sajjad on June 17, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    I agree with the shot of KP. If a bowler can change his delivery than a batsman can also change his style. When a bowler changes his delivery {Ex: A bowler says he’ll bowl leg break but he bowl off break/medium pace (like AFRIDI / KUMBLE / MURALI) then batsman can’t understand the bowl and can’t decide which shot should he play!} then a batsman have nothing to do. And see, this is bowler’s rights to change his delivery. Similarly batsmen should have some rights to change his mind/batting style. And umpire should treat those batsmen as a right handed, not as a lefty. Because, batsman has change his style at his own risk.

  • vertu on June 17, 2008, 13:30 GMT

    it is NOT a reverse sweep, he hasn't invented anything, he is simply playing a left handed sweep exactly the same as Hayden or Gilchrist or any other left hander would play

    the fact that he is ambidextrous is nothing special either , plenty of baseball players do it, lots of cricketers would be ambidextrous and could play the shot, perhaps not with the same power though, he is a powerful man after all.

  • Simon on June 17, 2008, 13:05 GMT

    Lets get this straight, the issue here is clearly nothing to do with pieterson or inventing new strokes. This board is a perfect example of what the real issue is. If we cannot have agreement on what should and should not happen in the case of this happening again then how can we expect the umpires to make the correct call? The rules would need to be clarified so that all umpires would know how to make a correct call in the event of a possible wicket. None of this is about shot improvisation or wether the bowler is skillful enough to adjust in time, changing stance is an entirely different matter and if this requires a slight amendment to the rules then so be it. I welcome batting improvisations but rules are rules ladies and gentlemen and as a few people have pointed out - if the bowler must declare which side he bowls from then its only fair a batsmen must too. I don't care which side becomes leg side, I want the umpires to know so they can all make the right decision.

  • Jawad on June 17, 2008, 12:57 GMT

    Dear All

    I think i havent seen anything like this before. These were just more than best reverse sweeps ever. I dont think any other batsman in the world can lay such shorts. I have really developed great admiration for Peterson. About the rules. I think its not a big problem. As the batsman is a right handed, so if you have to give a wide r a Leg before just follow the rules of a right handed batsman and vice versa. This is how it should be done and this is how we usually play in Pakistan as well.

  • Jeff on June 17, 2008, 12:44 GMT

    What a breathtaking shot to introduce into the international arena. And how about the reaction it's generated, first in the face of Scott Styris (a bemused 'ok-you-win' smile), then some enthusiastic discussion from the sky commentary team, and the fans in forums such as this - fantastic. Good for cricket I would have though. So now what, ban it? Are you serious? How about adapting the game a little so it's implications are understood and adhered to. Some sensible suggestions have been offered already re: LBW and field placements restrictions. Don't go take a backward step now by telling a batsman how he can and cannot grip his bat.

  • vertu on June 17, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    hypothetical... next ashes series on a bouncy lively pitch Alistair Cook (left handed normally) comes out and bats in a right handed stance thus only 2 fielders allowed behind square. Brett Lee is halfway in to bowl , Cook (legally) reverts to left hand stance , allowing a maximum of 2 fielders behind square on what is now the off side = 2 slip flelders maximum not a bad way to get rid of the "off side" close catchers ! you dont even need to actually be able to bat from the other side to exploit the loophole

    simple , the stance "side" taken up when facing must be maintained or offside and onside must no longer exists does it? thus get rid of all other laws relating to off side or onside , which means you can bowl a foot outside leg stump all day long with a stacked field behind square have fun watching that !

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