Ian Chappell
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Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Why aren't more bowlers complaining about the switch hit?

The stroke is patently unfair and widens the imbalance between bat and ball

Ian Chappell

May 20, 2012

Comments: 72 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen plays the switch-hit, England v India, 4th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 19, 2011
Batsmen will be the first to protest if bowlers don't say in advance which side of the wicket they will bowl from © AFP
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In my playing days I believed many Englishmen used to unnecessarily complicate what was meant to be a reasonably simple game. It looks like that habit has now spread.

I can't imagine a more complicated solution to control the switch-hit phenomenon than what the ICC is considering. Complex changes to the lbw law regarding what is a batsman's leg side and analysis of the risk-reward ratio of the shot to see if it disadvantages the bowler are two such proposals. Without watching another ball bowled, I can tell you the answer to the second suggestion: the switch hit is patently unfair to bowlers.

If a bowler, having already told the batsman (via the umpire) how he's going to propel the ball, places his field for a right-hander and ends up delivering to a left-hander, how can that be fair? It's possible to reach a more equitable arrangement dealing with the mafia.

One of the critical duties of an administrator is to ensure the contest between bat and ball remains balanced, like an evenly weighted see-saw. The switch hit is a hefty dad on one end with his five-year-old son, feet dangling in mid-air, on the other.

A simple law that states, "Having taken up his stance, a batsman may not change the order of his feet or hands in playing a shot", would ensure balance is restored.

With the fielding positions still effective, let the batsman play the reverse sweep, the scoop or whatever other innovative premeditated shot he dreams up and any self-respecting bowler will feel the odds are in his favour. The reverse sweep does not defy the proposed law above because the top and bottom hands remain exactly that on the handle.

If the ICC wants real proof of any disadvantage then let the bowler not have to tell the batsman from which side of the wicket he's going to deliver. When the bowler swaps from over to round at his pleasure, see how long it is before batsmen are bleating. In fact, the umpires would probably be the first to call for a truce.

In addition to disadvantaging the bowlers, the switch hit could unfairly help the batting side win a tight Test match. By swapping at the last moment, a batsman could induce a no-ball under the maximum-two-fieldsmen behind-square-leg law to gain victory without hitting the ball or the bowler knowingly doing anything illegal.

One of the critical duties of an administrator is to ensure the contest between bat and ball remains balanced, like an evenly weighted see-saw. The switch hit is a hefty dad on one end with his five year-old son, feet dangling in mid-air, on the other

I've championed the cause of bowlers over the years, as the major innovators in the game, and I'm staggered they have been so timid in this debate. Whatever happened to the spirit of those revolutionaries John Willes and Ned Willsher, both of whom played a role during the 19th century in upgrading bowling from underarm (via sidearm) to the modern over-arm delivery?

I'm surprised no modern-day bowling revolutionary has tried swapping alternate deliveries from over and round the wicket until the officials enquired, "What's your problem?"

As a part-time leggie and a baseball catcher in my younger days, I would have seriously considered letting a batsman have it with a well-directed throw if he changed the order of his hands or feet while I was running in to bowl. I've no doubt Wills and Willsher would adopt more subtle methods, but I'm sure they would have admired my zeal in attempting to get my point across.

I'm often told the switch hit should be allowed because it's legal in baseball. That's nonsensical because in baseball the hitter has to stand in either the left- or right-hand batter's box, so the pitcher knows beforehand what he's facing and can adjust his field accordingly. And late in a close game the opposing manager will call on either a right- or left-handed pitcher in order to exploit the switch hitter's weaker side.

There's no doubt the switch hit requires a hell of a lot of skill, and it's exciting when Kevin Pietersen or David Warner clubs a six while quickly swapping from one style of batsman to another. Skilful yes, fair on the bowlers no, and it's the approval of such imbalances between bat and ball that can lead to things like chucking and ball-tampering, or at the very least on-field animosity.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

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Posted by   on (May 23, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

It also takes a great amount of skill to accurately aim a beamer at the batsman's neck, but that does not mean it should be allowed.

Posted by jay57870 on (May 22, 2012, 13:54 GMT)

Ian's macho attitude of "letting a batsman have it with a well-directed throw if he changed the order of his hands or feet while I was running in to bowl" has no place in cricket. Ian's a baby-boomer who can't get past his "younger" born-to-be-wild days. Likewise, no point in instigating a "modern-day bowling revolutionary" to challenge the umpires. As it is, they have a tough job. That two of the most innovative batsmen - "dil-scoop" Dilshan & "switch-hit" KP - were embroiled in a bowler-batsman standoff (3 times in an over) shows how demanding the situation is: Obviously Dilshan saw things differently as a bowler. Putting oneself in the other guy's shoes can help in resolving issues. Switch-hitting is instantaneous flip-flopping: very difficult for an umpire to watch the bowler's delivery stride & batsman's stance/grip simultaneously in real time & make an accurate call. And add lbw issues. No way. As I've posted elsewhere, baseball might show us the way to a solution. Right, Ian?

Posted by arjun126 on (May 22, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

I cant understand why this should even be discussed. A switch hit is not easy and does require a decent amount of skill. The problem is that the notion of this being a batter friendly game has clouded some minds. I agree it is batter friendly in general but come to think of it in a switch hit the batsman has very little time. To turn around when the bowler is almost delivering the ball and then read the pitch of the ball and hence generate the power the shot in a span of nothing. It requires good hand and eye coordination and is amazingly humiliating for the bowler. The bowlers wont mind it always since it doubles their chances to pick a wicket.

Posted by mynoon on (May 22, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

1 Hobbs. 2 Sutcliffe. 3 Bradman. 4 Hammond. 5 Sobers. 6 Gilchrist. 7 Khan. 8 Akram. 9 Warne. 10 Barnes. 11 Lillee.

Was are Sutcliffe and Hammond so underrated?

Swich hitting is all about power, not skill. You don't see Ian Bell playing it.

Posted by   on (May 22, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

Maybe the bowlers aren't complaining because there a better than average chance that the batsman is going to stuff it up

Posted by neilddd on (May 21, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

I'm not totally clued up on all the potential rule changes but I think it's pretty stupid to suggest that a batsman changing stance would induce a no-ball being given for fielders behind square on the leg side.

Posted by applethief on (May 21, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

Rarely agree with Chappell, but he's not wrong here. Sadly, I don't think well-reasoned arguments ever win the case whenever the batsmen want another yard - actions speak louder than words. It's time some ambidextrous bowlers started switching hands and sides to illustrate how unfair the changes are.

Posted by   on (May 21, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

What about Doosra by a bowler?

Posted by cricket_ftw on (May 21, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

Make pitches a bit bouncy and dare if any batsmen try switch hit ...

Posted by Romanticstud on (May 21, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

Mr Chappel is digging a big hole ... If the batsman has the skill to reverse the shot completely ... he should be allowed ... and also provision must be made for the fielding of players on the "leg side behind square leg be amended" ... If a switch hit is achieved the LBW law will be reversed and the wide rule should be amended so as to let the bowler have protection against an attempted switch-hit. Bowlers should be able to switch sides of the wicket as and when he wants so as to add excitement and surprise to the batsman. Also what about various bowlers "sling" action ... i.e. Lasith Malinga. Can that not be deemed illegal aspecially as he can get the ball to slide in low ...

Posted by JP_the_genius on (May 21, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

Agreed with Mr. Chappel for the first time!

Posted by Selassie-I on (May 21, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

I thought it was supposed to be whinging pomms? I think it's fair enough that batsmen play the switch hit, it's not like the bowler announces what type of delivery he's going to bowl every ball eg. slower ball, inswinger, top-spinner etc. and complaining about the field setting, it's not as if the batsman now hits to some previousley uncharted area of the ground. The shot is also a good combat for negative bowling from spinners, the only thing that I see unfair is the LBW rule and that the batsman shoudl switch after the bowler is in their stride, one of which is already in place the other could be changed simply by removing the rule about the ball pitching outside leg when a batsman switches, so he would just have to be hit in line with the ball going on to hit.

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (May 21, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

To make cricket more equal to batsman and bowler no need to introduce new laws. Just make pitches bowler friendly and play with proper boundaries and also remove the restriction on bouncers. May be LBW law can be changed to remove the protection on balls pitched on the leg

If the ball is bouncing and swinging/spinning let batsman take the risk of switching. It will extra dimension to the cricket.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (May 21, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Advocating Switch hit cause it requires lot of skill is load of rubbish. Are these people trying to say all other cricketing shots like hook, pull, cut and drives are easy to play? This is a new shot innovated and soon international batsmen with lot of practice will start executing it with ease. Also supporting it cause it gives bowler more chance of taking wickets also doesnt make much of sense unless ICC tweaks the LBW law and allows the right hand batsmen given LBW in case he is playing switch hit and bowl is pitched out side his leg stump. In current format Switch hit is plain unfair to the bowlers and amounts to exploiting the current laws of the game. Ian chapell is one of the finest thinking minds of the game and he is spot on here as he is most of the time.

Posted by borhans on (May 21, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

Cricket is Batman's game ,Bowler are there just to make it complete .People enjoy good batting more than good bowling(of course they enjoy wickets).But for batters every four,six ,even 3s are enjoyed by crowd but for bowlers very few cheer a dot ball or a good ball which don't produce wicket .So for the survival of cricket & to make it more popular batsman are getting more opportunity to show their talents .Bowlers are limited to give less problem to batsman .

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (May 21, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

To all those saying the switch-hit is unfair, what about leg side bowling is that unfair where the field has 7 players on the leg side, and the bowler bowls 6 inches outside leg? Captains have a choice set an ultra defensive 6/7 man legside field and get switch hit, or employ a more traditional field 5-4 and dont see the switch hit. As for bowlers being allowed to switch hands or side of the wicket it would be incredibly dangerous as the batsman wouldnt know where the ball was coming from, so they wouldnt have time to adjust especially where there is a small side screen (Lords pavillion). People also forget Cricket IS a batsmans game, always has been, always will be.

Posted by SixFourOut on (May 21, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

If the batsman can switch hands then I should be able to switch arms, I can bowl left and right arm, so why not even it up?

Posted by samrao on (May 21, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

Very valid article Ian. In my opinion switch hit and reverse sweep should be banned as they make mockery of the game . A few other things like leg byes ,runs scored of a no ball , batsman standing outside before the ball is deliverd , non striker backing up should also be cosidered for banning. Also a four or a six should be awarded only if the ball physically crosses the boundary and not when the fielder's body part touches the boundary. All these things will make game more evenly contested between bowler and batsman. But then is cricket a game anymore ?

Posted by   on (May 21, 2012, 1:53 GMT)

"In addition to disadvantaging the bowlers, the switch hit could unfairly help the batting side win a tight Test match. By swapping at the last moment, a batsman could induce a no-ball under the maximum-two-fieldsmen behind-square-leg law to gain victory without hitting the ball or the bowler knowingly doing anything illegal."

NO NO NO NO. The batsman CANNOT do that. I am an umpire and I can tell you right now EVERY umpire knows that a batsman's leg side is determined the moment the ball comes into play for that delivery, NOT when the bowler bowls it. Switch hits are not illegal because the laws already cover them. If a batsman tries it, misses the ball which has landed outside his off stump, he can be out LBW, even if that off stump is now behind his legs when he receives the ball. Also, he cannot get a No-Ball for two behind square because any of those fieldsmen would in fact be behind point.

Posted by Meety on (May 21, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

To me, I would imagine that the skill AND balance required to successfully play a sweep shot is such, that a bowler must fancy their chances of getting a wicket. That being said, I very rarely see Warner fail to execute (a LHB to RHB shot), similar with KP. I think if a batsmen changes stance (&grip) once the bowler starts his run up, the legside LBW law & legside wides (mainly for short forms) & the leg theory no-ball must be removed.

Posted by pmahone on (May 21, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

Spot on, 100 percent. The game has swung far too far in favour of the batsman.

However, taking into account the excitement of the switch hit, I'm not sure it should be straight out outlawed. There is a risk and reward element that should be recognised. However, once any batsman has used a switch hit, at any stage of his innings, the lbw and wide/no ball rules for the remainder of that innings/match should regard him as both a left and right handed batsman.

In other words, once the switch hit is unveiled, the leg side wide would be taken right out of play; leg side fielding restrictions would no longer apply and, for lbw, the law would take no regard of whether the ball pitched outside off or leg for the remainder of that innings.

The batsman, or woman, would effectively get one shot at it before declaring him or herself ambidextrous for the application of all relevant laws for the remainder of that innings/match.

Posted by RandyOZ on (May 21, 2012, 0:24 GMT)

Even though Warner is the best player of the switch hit in the world, I totally agree with Chappell on this.

Posted by NonStriker on (May 20, 2012, 23:43 GMT)

Not sure if the laws need to change. Surely just a clarification that LBW and No-Ball laws apply as per the batsman's stance when the bowler commences his run up and an understand on how the law on wides will be interpreted (perhaps that both sides of the wicket are in effect the off side).

Posted by drinks.break on (May 20, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

While on the subject of rule changes, here are a few more:

1. Let the bowler change whichever side of the wicket he bowls from without notice, but only if the sightscreen is big enough that the batsman is never unsighted. 2. Let the bowler bowl with either arm without having to warn the batsman. 3. If the batsman switches, in limited overs cricket, both sides of the wicket are treated as the "offside" as far as wides are concerned.

Bowlers are already allowed to do plenty to trick the batsman into completely mis-reading the ball. I remember when slower balls were a new thing, and Merv Hughes bowled one at about half pace, but in order to pitch it up, he of course had to toss the ball much higher than normal. The batsman instinctively thought it was a beamer, and so backed away, only to lose his middle stump. Since then, batsmen have had to learn to read the bowling better; now the bowlers will have to learn to deal with the switch hit. It's part of the ebb and flow of the game.

Posted by DavidNorman99 on (May 20, 2012, 23:29 GMT)

Ian said "By swapping at the last moment, a batsman could induce a no-ball under the maximum-two-fieldsmen behind-square-leg law". No he can't. The leg side and off side are determined when the ball enters play (law 36.3), which happens when the bowler starts his run up (law 23.5).

Posted by drinks.break on (May 20, 2012, 23:24 GMT)

Disagree! Let's loosen the laws, not tighten them further.

The best change we could make would be to correct the atrocious LBW law. Why is a batsman not out just because the ball didn't both pitch in line and hit him in line? If he uses anything other than his bat to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps, he should be out, period. That simple change would solve the entire "problem" of the switch hit.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

All they need to change is if the batsman decided to use the switch hit shot then he can be out lbw either side, and wide can not be called unless outside the tram lines.

Posted by Ed_Lamb on (May 20, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

More Chappelli nonsense. Bowlers are up for the switch hit because it gives them a great chance of taking a wicket. And of course it thrills the crowds...how awful, ban it immediately.

Posted by njr1330 on (May 20, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Switch-hit = middle-stump yorker = out !! Simples...as they say in Merekat adverts !

Posted by ElBeeDubya on (May 20, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

If a batsman is allowed to change his grip at will, bowlers and fielding captains should be given the SIMILAR FREEDOM. This means, there should be no difference between the sides with respect to WIDES and FIELDING RESTRICTIONS. The bowler should be able to bowl either over the stumps or around the stumps at will. Re. LBWs, I have always found it unfair that a bowler could not get an LBW if the ball pitches outside the leg stump. It is time to get rid of this meaningless rule. An unrelated thing that can make the game more exciting is increasing the limit to at least TWO BOUNCERS per over. Batsmen have better protection now so let's see how well they can handle hostile fast bowling. I can't be the only one who wants to see batsmen facing STEYN, Morkel, Cummins and Roach when they are at their most menacing fiery best in TEST matches!

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

What is really fair in cricket? A batsman is up against eleven players when batting,he could be given out in so many ways, should he be given 4 runs if he makes a classic stroke through the covers but the boundary was stopped by magnificent fielding? should the doorsa then be illegal for an off-spinner to bowl or maybe the googly of the leg-spinner? cricketers adapt and invent as the game evolves,so please stop coming up with new stupid laws and leave cricket be, as it is right now cricket is apparently being played by people off the field than on the field.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

A lot of hue and cry is being created about an innovative cricket shot which requires skills to execute. Perhaps Ian Chappell and Harsha Bhogle should harp about how rules are bent by ICC to accommodate bowlers with flexed arms. In my humble view, bowling with bent arms more patently unfair rather than a switch hit!!

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

"the switch-hit phenomenon"

Pretty much two batsmen in KP and Warner play the shot. Bringing new a ton of new rules to counter two players is nonsensical. As a bowler, I'd relish a batsman playing the shot. If Chapelli really wants to change things that are unfair to bowlers, then the tight restriction on offside wides, fielding restrictions full stop, and dismally short boundaries are the areas to look at.

If you want some fun then I suggested elsewhere that if a batsman plays a switch hit, then the bowler should be allowed to bowl a beamer at any time he chooses without penalty (no ball, warning etc) to that batsman. You'd then see some fun!

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

If he wants level playing field for bat, ball then there should be no field restrictions in both 20-20 & ODIs.This gives the batsmen to score quikly 6 (20-20) & 10+5+5 = 20 in ODI which makes no sense at all. Before 1992 Wc there was no field restrictions, Desmond Haynes & G. Greenidge were the openers in ODI who were able to score runs others all failed to score runs. This prompted ICC to start with field restrictions & make a mockery of level playing field. You can see so many 10,000+ run scorers in ODIs after D.Haynes. Most of them made runs with laws supporting their Ariel shots which otherwise would have been easy catches to the fielders.

When talking of bat&ball how many bowlers do we see as captain compared to batsmen? Pick any era & you will find batsmen being captains of their team. Cricket has always been like 60-40 in favor of batsmen.

ICC should abolish all rules to favor batsmen, make ODI & 20-20 like Test cricket with no field restrictions to make it more competitive.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

No bowler is complaining because it's seen as a high risk shot; the chance of them getting out would be higher, especially lbw or bowled.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 14:11 GMT)

That is as lame as it can get. Ian Chappel has dished out something of not much use really. Reverse/Switch hit exposes the batsmen to risk. On similar lines shall we make dancing down the wicket also as illegal because attempted yorkers become full tosses?

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

As a part-time dispenser of indifferent leggies who took an average of 18 eight-ball overs to take one of his twenty hideously expensive Test wickets, Ian should have felt himself complimented had a batsman ever felt it necessary to attempt a switch-hit against him instead of just enjoying the help-yourself bowling. The only time some ambitious kid tried it against me (and I'm even worse than Ian) I only hoped he'd give it another go, for it sure wasn't making a better batsman out of him.

Posted by pandez on (May 20, 2012, 13:59 GMT)

Have thought long and hard about what advantage to provide to bowlers so that they can compete equally with the batsman, and came to conclusion that the bowlers should be allowed to bowl at least one delivery on to the leg side which wont be considered as a wide. as it has been done by allowing one shoulder height wide which is considered legal. By this the batsman will get out of the comfort zone and think twice before premeditating a shot. Thanks_for allowing us to share our view. Pandey-----

Posted by HawK89 on (May 20, 2012, 13:44 GMT)

"Why aren't more bowlers complaining about the switch hit?" because smart bowlers see a wicket coming when someone attempts that.

Posted by intcamd on (May 20, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

Chappell is making no sense. Where does the law state that the batsman has to stand only a certain way and can't switch their stance, hitting hand, etc.? He starts complaining that laws have become weird and complicated and then advocates changing that a batsman can only stand a certain way. Weird!

Posted by logmein on (May 20, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

Executing switch hit properly requires a fair amount of skill on batsman's part and it is a high risk shot. A skillful bowler will look it as a very good opportunity to get the batsman's out. To draw parallels, bowlers may be allowed to bowl using any of the hands without prior intimation. Instead of calling it over the wicket or around the wicket, the bowler should only inform whether he is going to bowl from left side or right side of the wicket. He should have the freedom to use any hand to deliver the ball.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

What a load of rubbish. If a bowler tried switching from over to round (or vice versa) surely he would be no-balled. Also the switch hit is exciting-so y take it out of the game? Just consider the batsman to be left handed when he attempts the switch hit.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

Oh well then stop the batsmen coming down the track and making a yorker ball full toss or going deep into the crease and making a yorker ball a over pitched delivery... because it affects the bowlers field setting... Be fair to bowlers pls :p otherwise let the batsmen tell the bowler wat shot he gonna play... it ll make the contest between bat and ball even

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

What's it all about !!! Keep it Simple....Ask the batsmen to define his leg stump to umpire and other team when he cums to batting....or whenever he wants to change...!!! and then bowler should bowl. and rest the rules remain same....which ever way the batsman play. Bowler can easily bowl down the off side for right handed batsman...even if he's switched. The batsman misses or hits his problem. If bowler bowls down the leg stump for RHB and he switches and misses...its a wide

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 12:19 GMT)

I think as long as the rule changes is a good response to the switch hit and it restores the balance in the game. I have long advocated for this day . In fact i also think in terms of leg side wides generally there should be a bit more leeway on balls pitches on leg stump most modern batsmen favor the leg side generally .Why for a ball pitching a millimeter outside leg should it be called a wide anyway? As it is on the offside if the batter can reach it . the ball should be considered legit.

Posted by balajik1968 on (May 20, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

Cricket has already become a batsman's game. The switch hit definitely is a game changer. The ICC should now take a hard look at the rules so that the playing field is levelled. The umpire while taking any decision should interpret the laws in such a way that the left handed batsman is treated as a right hander and vice versa. By the way, why not uncover the wickets again so that the game becomes an even contest between bat and ball. This more than anything could prevent batsman from just plonking their feet and heaving. Nowadays even mishits travel to the boundary. Pitches the world over are becoming dead. Maybe it's time ICC paid attention to making the game more even.

Posted by wouldlovetoplayagain on (May 20, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

Ian - I agree completely. I once had a bowler in my team who could bowl right arm and left arm medium pace (amazingly with very similar action and outcome except for opposite drift through the air). The batsmen used to be shocked when the umpire would say "Bowler is changing from Right Arm over the wicket to Left Arm around the wicket" but imagine how they would react if this happened without warning. Yes, "switch-hitting" is a great part of baseball but the pitcher knows how the batter is facing up in advance.

Posted by KarachiKid on (May 20, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

Agreed 100% cricket is being taken over the batsmen friendly rules primarily because of ODI's and T20's and some countries' love affair with batsmen.

Posted by waspsting on (May 20, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

as its used now - occasionally, rarely to go for a big shot - i don't think the switch hit is a problem; bowler has good chances of dismissing a batsman doing this. What happens if a usual right hander, say Pietersen, shapes up to play left handed and then "switches" to a leftie? even to play a defensive shot? Banning it would be easiest, I agree

Posted by Dude.Cricket on (May 20, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

I think switch hit can be permitted as long as the batsman informs the bowling team that he is going to face the ball the other way. It's indeed unfair to the bowler. If switch hits are allowed as it exists now, bowlers should be allowed to bowl under-arm to balance that.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

People dont realise the switch hit's damn difficult to pull off. Also Its silly to suggest that because bowlers arent allowed to bowl from different sides, the batsmen shudnt be allowed to play switch hit either. Why dont we encourage both sides to switch their hands while bowling and batting? Increases the competition, and best of all, makes cricket even more beautiful to watch. KP is renowned only because of his 'eccentric' shots and mindset. Make it difficult for ppl to play the switch hit but dont ban it. Allow umpires to give the batsmen lbw even if the ball pitches outside leg stump. Putting a ban on it will only discourage players from improvising.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (May 20, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

Natural evolution of the game, field placings will evolve, bowlers will adapt. These people often forget they are in the entertainment business.

Posted by RussDegnan on (May 20, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

jmcilhinney, exactly! If as Chappell describes it the batsman became opposite handed under the law then that would truly be unfair. But no interpretation nor proposal seems to imply that. If a batsman is considered both-handed, able to be dismissed lbw to ball pitching outside leg, and receiving no wide call to balls moving a foot past what is now leg stump, then the advantage is pretty minimal. Any sensible bowler will merely bowl full down leg (to his field no less), from which position the batsman has very few options (which is why we have a tight leg-side wide rule, and no leg-side lbw). Conversely, if a bowler bowls in the slot on middle stump (as seems to be the fashion) then it really doesn't matter what handed the batsman is.

Posted by rk350 on (May 20, 2012, 10:09 GMT)

I completely disagree with the article, and some parts of it are just totally incorrect: For example:

By swapping at the last moment, a batsman could induce a no-ball under the maximum-two-fieldsmen behind-square-leg law to gain victory without hitting the ball or the bowler knowingly doing anything illegal.

This is not true, has never happened and never will happen.

What about your new law: Michael Clarke faces a spinner, dances down the wicket and hits a beautiful cover drive! OH NO, his feet swapped over while he came down the wicket - 5 penalty runs.

However, my real problem is that I fundamental disagree that it is unfair as a bowler. You claim that the batsman will gain an advantage by having a field not set up for it - WHY? Why can't they set a field for a switch hit? There are no restrictions on the off side!

But ultimately, my issue is that if I was a bowler, I'd want the batsman to change, particularly in a test match, where wickets are crucial.

Posted by stormy16 on (May 20, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

This will no doubt divide the fans but my call is it should be banned - its just not cricket! As pointed out it gives an unfair advantage to the batsman and thus its not an even contest - the very thing we are here to see. Cricket is about rules this shot simply is above the rules and should not be allowed. I see the argument for the need for innovation and make the game exiting, point granted but not to the extent to allow the shot.

Posted by psy_spy on (May 20, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

Whenever a batsmen tries switch hit,the umpire should call it dead ball.The field is set keeping in mind the right handed stance(or LHS) of the batsman.If he switch hits,then the whole purpose of setting a field according to the bowler's delivery will be defeated.What will happen if the bowler starts following "SWITCH BOWLING"?The batsman won't know if he is going to bowl using his right arm or left arm.That would be interesting.Rather than improving the conventional shots,batsman are trying to invent half baked shots which most of the time looks like a batsman trying to dance with 10 left feet.It looks ugly.Would you enjoy watching a cover drive to the boundary or Dilscoop(it looks like a man doing stretching exercise rather than a cricket shot)?If switch hit is allowed,than switch bowling should be allowed.Period.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (May 20, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

Ian, I am surprised. You are just the sort of guy I thought would have been the sort to play the switch hit if it was around in your day. Good to see you can look at it objectively. I think it should be banned from Tests and ODIs, but not Twenty20. T20 is about entertainment. But to balance the ledger, I also reckon in T20, the bowler shouldn't have to declare what he's bowling or which side of the wicket. And if he's capable, not even which arm he's going to use. Keep these sorts of craziness to T20s.

Posted by venkat_75r on (May 20, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Ian is absolutely correct. ICC should ban this or they can ask the batsman to change the stance once the ball is released :-)

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

@jonathonjosephs: That's not a fair argument because KP used the switch-hit to negate the negative bowling tactics used by MJ! Negative bowling is a bigger disgrace than any shot you can dream up! As a bowler, I am happy to see a batsman try a switch-hit because a yorker, bouncer or even a wide delivery is enought to keep him quiet or dismiss him! The chance of getting out is much much much higher. All we need is for leg-side wides and outside leg-stump LBW laws to be changed by the ICC. It's a welcome chance for bowlers to prize wickets.

Posted by JohnnyRook on (May 20, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

I am glad Ian Chappell has written this piece since last week when Harsha Bhogle wrote similar piece, more comments were about author's nationality than about switch-hit. Pro-switch hit people don't consider the scenario where a right handed batsman starts with a left handed stance. Then field will have to be set up accordingly. Now only four fielders or less can be set on his leg side. So if bowler bowls on the leg side thinking that batsman will switch to his dominant side, the batsman can hit a cross batted heave or a flick even left handed with only 4 fielders there. Remember most likely he can't get LBW since the ball will pitch outside the leg. And if bowler bowls to the off, he can switch to his dominant side and again hit a cross batted heave or a flick. So switch hit should be banned or at least batsman should be allowed to switch only after ball leaves the bowler's hand.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

Personally I think the switch hit is entertaining so should be retained. However to balance things, the batsman when attempting such a shot should run the danger of being given out lbw wherever the ball has pitched. The 2 behind square rule point: I think Ian is being a bit pendantic here, as a batsman has a nominated stance on which fielding restrictions are based. Alternatively, with all the modern batting protection; this rule could simply afford to be abolished: this may even encourage a new batch of decent fast bowlers because lets face it, there aren't many good ones at the moment.

Posted by brittop on (May 20, 2012, 7:57 GMT)

@Ian Chappell: I still don't understand why switch hit bad, reverse sweep good. They both try to avoid the field and both have risks.

Posted by Praxis on (May 20, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

The balance has been long lost, for the past two decades ICC has always favored the batsmen, be it the laws of the game or playing surfaces... The effect is most notable in the shorter formats, the pitches are shaved naked, now you have free hits, boundary ropes are rarely over 70 meters, 15 overs of power-play in ODIs, wides are given if the bowlers goes millimeters away from the leg stumps, bouncer anywhere near the shoulder will be called wide, ball is changed to negate the reverse swing. Historically anything new the bowlers have tried have been under scrutiny first, where innovative batting has been cheered & recognized. The most cricket-crazy nation in earth is India, can you find how many of their superstar cricketers have been bowlers?[Kapil Dev was an alrounder] Even the fans do not appreciate the art of bowling as much they do for batting. Switch-hit is innovative & brilliant surely, fans may get a glimpse of greatness in that shot, but this is not fair to the bowlers.

Posted by brittop on (May 20, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

@johnathonjosephs: The bowler must have to bowl outside off to a field like that. If the batsman walked outside his off stump and played the ball to leg, that would have the same result, which according to you has a 0% risk off getting out, so should that be illegal too?

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

I dont know if the issue is about a 'skilful' player who can execute switch hit well. I dont know how/if the rules change - will 'outside the off stump' change to 'outside the leg stump' thereby negating lbw or wide ball? If so, switch-hit is a no-no. If not, I cant blame batsman who is just good enough to handle the ball with 'unnatural' position. The no of fielders on one side of the ground do not change and so the batsman still has the advantage of 'fewer' fielder on one side of the ground. It is upto how the bowler adjusts to the changed 'stance' of the batsman.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 6:01 GMT)

Switch hit is for the batsman like a bouncer for bowlers.

Posted by SlightlyIntoCricket on (May 20, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

Why not take it out of ODI and Test cricket? The whole point of T20 was to be exciting so leave it solely as a T20 shot. I mean you only have 120 deliverys, a switch-hit that goes right only comes along once in a blue moon anyway.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (May 20, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

@johnathonjosephs, surely thats the problem SL set an ultra defensive field and bowled down the leg side to try and dry up runs, and prevent england getting away from them. The switch hit in this case was merely used to get round this, had there been a more even split (5 legside), then KP wouldnt have played the shot.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (May 20, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

If they are going to allow the leg and offside switch theres a simple solution to the 2-fielders behind leg rule, remove it, dont forget it was only put in after the bleating of Aussie batsmen about how unfair Last-leg theory was to them during and after Bodyline. Personally I dont see the problem with the batsman switching hands if his stance remains the same, switching stance is a different matter, as it does affect wides, LBW's, but simply switching hands does not.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

THE ICC are prevaricating , Its clearly unfair and the sooner they make it clear the better

Posted by jmcilhinney on (May 20, 2012, 4:47 GMT)

I don't really mind whether the switch hit is allowed or not, as long as the rules are clear. If it's going to be legal, as it it technically is right now, then I do think that any rules relating to off- and leg-side need to be relaxed, i.e. both sides of the wicket should be treated the way the off-side is now. This would relate to LBW, wides, etc. If they do introduce a law to basically ban the switch hit, there will be a bit of an outcry initially but it will probably dissipate fairly quickly. The vast majority of batsmen would never even consider playing the shot anyway so why would most care? There are plenty of batsmen as skilful as KP and Warner who would be incapable of playing it because it relies on a high degree of natural ambidexterity, which very few people, and therefore batsmen, possess.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (May 20, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

Great piece from Ian Chappelle. Many people do not really fully understand the implications of the Switch Hit because they think it's just an ordinary shot. It's different, because the batsman changes from one handed to another hand. Amibdextrous players (in which a lot of sportsman are) get a HUGE advantage to this, while the same thing is illegal for bowlers. This causes a HUGE imbalance in the battle of bat and ball. For example, when Pietersen hit that magnificient century in Sri Lanka, he utilized the switch hit a lot. Mahela put a field completely to his off side, so when Pietersen did the switch hit, he was practically 100% safe. Even if he skied the ball, there would be no fielder to catch the ball... Literally 50% of the that part of the field was empty and Pietersen did mistime the ball quite a few times, but there was no danger. It really is a unfair shot because if you make contact with the ball (most batsman will) it is literally a 100% chance that you won't get out

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Ian ChappellClose
Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

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