Kevin Pietersen’s improvised switch-hitting will be discussed by the MCC on Tuesday to determine the legality of his amazing innovations against New Zealand on Sunday.
The tall and powerful England and Hampshire batsman twice stunned the Chester-le-Street crowd in the first one-day international by launching sixes off medium-pacer Scott Styris after changing from his normal right-handed stance into a left-hander to take advantage of gaps in the field-placings.
While he has been applauded since for his ability to hit such an improvised stroke for six, cricket traditionalists have questioned whether it is legal or within the spirit of the game. They argue it is unfair on the bowler, who has to inform the batsman with which arm he is about to bowl, and the fielding captain who sets his field dependent on whether the batsman is right-handed or left-handed.
The International Cricket Council, the world’s governing body, will thus ask the MCC, as guardians of cricket’s laws, to discuss the issue at today’s Laws Committee meeting at Lord’s.The item has been added to the agenda having been discussed last month by the ICC Cricket Committee – Pietersen’s first attempt at the stroke resulted in a six off Muttiah Muralitharan in a Test at Edgbaston in 2006.
An ICC spokesman said: “There was no consensus on the issue for very clear reasons - there is one view that it is unfair. Another reason is that it is great entertainment and extremely skilful and why should we stifle flair in the game especially as only a few players seem capable of doing it? And yet another that it would be tough for umpires to rule on it while, at the same time, focusing on the ball.”
Former Warwickshire and England all-rounder Dermot Reeve, who was known for his own improvisation of the reverse sweep, welcomed Pietersen’s skill, saying: “Of course it’s fair, absolutely. As a batsman, if you’re standing there batting, if you’ve got your right hand at the bottom of the handle and your left hand at the top and you want to swap them around then that’s your choice.”
New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn was also amazed by Pietersen’s innovations but believes it should be welcomed. “If you’re good enough to play it you should be allowed to go for it,” the left-hander said. “I don’t see why he should be restricted in playing it so fair play to him. I’ve tried hitting right-handed shots myself but I can’t hit them as well as that.”
In last night’s Twenty20 Cup action, Ed Joyce and David Malan helped Middlesex to a five-wicket win over Surrey at Lord’s. The home side were set 142 to win, thanks to a 53-ball half-century by opener James Benning and 31 by Chris Jordan. Middlesex were seven for two and 64 for four but Malan had a 57-run stand with Joyce whose sensible 47 took only 48 balls. Malan, 41 not out, struck the winning runs in the 19th over with a four to long off.
At Trent Bridge Graham Wagg, the former Warwickshire player, starred for Derbyshire in a last-ball victory over Nottinghamshire. The left-arm seamer took three for 23 in Notts’ 144 for nine, Adam Voges scoring 52 off 41 balls, before West Indian Wavell Hinds (45) set up Derbyshire’s chase. With his team needing 11 off the final over, Wagg (27 not out) flicked Andre Adams over short fine-leg for four and drilled the final delivery through cover.
In Second XI Championship matches today, Andrew Flintoff, the England all-rounder, will begin his comeback from injury by playing for Lancashire against Durham at Alderley Edge.
Warwickshire’s James Ord returns from suffering a broken thumb early this season for the three-day Second XI Championship match against Middlesex at Merchant Taylor School, Northwood, Middlesex, today, writes Brian O’Sullivan. Warwickshire field five triallists, including newcomers Pete Wilshaw, the Staffordshire representive, and Steff Piolet, a 19-year Sussex Academy player.
WARWICKSHIRE: S Benton, P Wilshaw, L Parker (capt.), N James, J Ord, S Piolet, R Johnson (wkt.), K Barker, Shaaiq Choudhry, S Hole, A Miller, L Baker (non-batsman)