England batsman Kevin Pietersen was granted permission on Tuesday to continue his revolutionary switch-hitting tactics by the custodians of the rules of cricket.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said Pietersen’s innovation conformed to the existing rules.
”The MCC believes that the ‘switch-hit’ stroke is exciting for the game of cricket,” the statement said. ”Indeed the stroke conforms to the laws of cricket and will not be legislated against.”
Pietersen changed his stance and grip from right-hander to left-hander twice in Sunday’s one-day international against New Zealand, hitting Scott Styris for six both times.
His tactics divided the pundits. Supporters hailed a bold new initiative by one of the world’s most exciting cricketers, which they said could only increase the game’s appeal.
Critics said it unfairly handicapped bowlers, who have to advise batsmen through the umpire if they wish to bowl with the other arm.
The MCC, who were asked to deliberate on the legality of switch-hitting by the International Cricket Council, said the shot was difficult to execute effectively.
”It incurs a great deal of risk for the batsman,” the statement said. ”It also offers bowlers a good chance of taking a wicket, and therefore the MCC believes that the shot is fair to both batsman and bowlers.”
The statement added that while bowlers had to advise umpires and batsmen of their mode of delivery, they did not have to say what type of ball they planned to bowl.
Pietersen welcomed the decision in a statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
”I am glad that the MCC have recognised that cricket is always evolving and that this particular shot brings something special to the game,” he said. ”I have spent many hours in the nets working on it and I am pleased that all the hard work is not going to waste.”
Styris told reporters at practice before Wednesday’s second one-day international that he had no problems with Pietersen’s tactics.
”There’s nothing wrong with what he’s doing,” Styris told reporters at Edgbaston in Birmingham. ”As a bowler you have to think on your feet but it’s nothing different to a guy coming down the wicket at you. We all admire good cricket and I think that is what it was.”
Although an increasing number of cricketers, including Pietersen, have experimented with reverse sweeping the ball like a left-hander, he is the first in major cricket to face the bowler with an opposite stance and grip.
The endless battle over the years between bowlers and batsmen has usually been resolved in favour of the latter.
England captain Douglas Jardine instructed his fast bowlers to bowl short-pitched deliveries at the Australian batsmen’s bodies during the 1932/33 tour of Australia, specifically to curb the phenomenal run-scoring of Don Bradman.
Bradman was restricted and England won the series, but the tactics caused such a furore that the so-called Bodyline was banned.
In 1981 Australia captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother Trevor to bowl under-arm along the ground when New Zealand needed six runs from one delivery to win a one-day international. That, too, was banned. — Reuters