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June 17, 2008
The issue was raised during a scheduled MCC meeting, which was attended by Keith Bradshaw, the club secretary and chief executive, and John Stephenson, the head of cricket. The committee concluded that the "superb execution" of the stroke should not disguise its difficulty. "It incurs a great deal of risk for the batsman. It also offers bowlers a good chance of taking a wicket and therefore MCC believes that the shot is fair to both batsman and bowlers."
In a statement, the MCC pointed out that such a shot had already been acknowledged in the 2000 revision of the laws, in which Law 36.3 defines the "off side of the striker's wicket as being determined by the striker's stance at the moment the bowler starts his run-up."
However, the success of Pietersen's strokes could lead to two significant alterations to the laws. As things currently stand, under the provisions of Law 36.1.b, a batsman cannot be given out lbw if the ball pitches outside leg stump, an issue which will clearly require some review if leg and off stumps are to be swapped in this manner mid-delivery. And Law 25, which relates to wides, will also require some scrutiny, particularly in one-day cricket when anything that drifts past leg stump is liable to be called.
Some commentators, notably the former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding, had questioned the double standards at play, seeing as bowlers are not allowed to switch their style mid-over without informing the umpire. The MCC acknowledged this, but added: "They do not provide a warning of the type of delivery that they will bowl (for example, an off-cutter or a slower ball). It therefore concludes that the batsman should have the opportunity - should they wish - of executing the 'switch-hit' stroke."
Pietersen, naturally, was delighted at the news. "I'm very pleased by the MCC's decision and I think it's the right one not just for me or England but the game as a whole," Pietersen told PA Sport. "It's important that we as players are innovative and if this shot helps make cricket more exciting and entertaining for spectators then that has to be good for the sport.
"It's an extremely high-risk shot and there will be plenty of bowlers out there who will think that it gives them a great opportunity to get me out," said Pietersen. ""But overall I'm glad that MCC have recognised that cricket is always evolving and that this particular shot brings something special to the game."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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