Graeme Swann believes the cricket world will set its sights on emulating Kevin Pietersen’s switch-hit shot - and is confident none of the world’s leading players will match his stunning display.
England’s one-day off-spinner was as “gobsmacked” as the rest of the cricket community to witness team-mate Pietersen change his stance and hit Scott Styris for two left-handed sixes during the opening match of the NatWest Series on Sunday.
The two innovative shots have prompted great debate ever since, with the MCC deciding yesterday that it was legitimate, although they are to consider further the lbw and wide laws in relation to it.
But Swann is in no doubt that the world’s leading batsmen will all follow Pietersen’s lead and attempt to add it to their armoury, just as the reverse sweep has become an accepted part of the one-day game since first being introduced into senior cricket in the 1950s.
“I can see that happening,” stressed Swann. “I remember years ago as a little lad, my dad telling me not to play the reverse sweep once Mike Gatting got out doing it in the 1987 World Cup final and that’s now a legitimate part of cricket.
“If someone does it well, it’s very hard to combat and I’m sure there will be people in the next ten years who can do the switch shot, but I will bet my bottom dollar that there’s no one else in the world who can do that like Kev did on Sunday.”
Pietersen has already revealed he has spent many hours in the nets practising the shot before he implemented it into such a high-profile match and most of the anticipated 16,000 crowd at Edgbaston today for the second match of the NatWest Series against New Zealand will expect a repeat performance.
Whether he decides to utilise the shot or not, though, Swann believes Pietersen should be heralded as a great innovator rather than having cricket traditionalists mutter about whether it is fair for bowlers.
“I honestly can’t understand the furore,” claimed Swann. “It’s got everyone talking, he had 16,000 people leaving the ground talking about it and it’s dominated the headlines. He’s a freak of nature how he can do it and not just get it dribbling over the line either, but clear it handsomely on big boundaries.
“The sheer audacity was what I liked about it most - to hit it as cleanly as he did and as far as he did... the sheer audacity to try it in the first place was laughable and the fact he pulled it off was pure KP.”
Pietersen’s efforts prompted several England players, including Ravi Bopara and Swann, to try it in the nets with mixed fortunes as they prepared for today’s outing against the tourists. Swann admitted: “I tried it and ended up hitting the floor, tripping over and pirouetting on a length - I’ve got a massive bruise on my thigh to show for my efforts!
“We all loved it in the changing room, we sat there laughing about it and were gobsmacked but I don’t think anyone else has the balls to try it in a one-day international.”
England are expected to name an unchanged side as they try to claim a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after Alastair Cook was again ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Cook first complained about the problem during the latter stages of the final Test at Trent Bridge and has since missed the Twenty20 international at Old Trafford and Sunday’s victory at Chester-le-Street. His fitness will be assessed at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough this morning while Middlesex left-hander Andrew Strauss has been added to England’s squad as cover.
ENGLAND (from): PD Collingwood (Durham, capt), LJ Wright (Sussex), IR Bell (Warwickshire), KP Pietersen (Hampshire), OA Shah (Middlesex), TR Ambrose (Warwickshire, wkt), AD Mascarenhas (Hampshire), GP Swann (Northamptonshire), SC Broad (Nottinghamshire), RJ Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), JM Anderson (Lancashire), RS Bopara (Essex), CT Tremlett (Hampshire), AN Cook (Essex), AJ Strauss (Middlesex).
NEW ZEALAND (from): DL Vettori (capt), BB McCullum, JM How, JAH Marshall, RPL Taylor, SB Styris, DR Flynn, G Hopkins (wkt), KD Mills, TG Southee, JS Patel, MJ Mason, GD Elliott.
Umpires: SJ Davis (Aus) & IJ Gould.
Third Umpire: NJ Llong
Match Referee: Javagal Srinath (Ind).