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Switch hit saga: Genius or illegal? Opinions divide

The debate over the switch-hit has heated up during India’s tour of Australia.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: December 4, 2020 11:11:45 am
Australia's Glenn Maxwell bats against India and plays the switch hit. (AP)

The switch-hit was declared a legitimate shot by an International Cricket Council (ICC) committee in 2012. However, the debate around the particular shot has been raging on this week, ever since Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell started using it to good effect against India in the recently concluded ODI series.

Maxwell’s jaw-dropping shot against Kuldeep Yadav on Wednesday was simply remarkable as the ball landed some 20 rows back into the stands at Manuka Oval.

However, quite a few voices have raised the question that this shot gives the batsman an unfair advantage as the fielding team have already set the field suitable for a right-handed batsman (and vice-versa.

Who said what?

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has suggested the ICC to ban switch-hitting, saying the shot is “blatantly unfair” to the bowler and the fielding team.

“Switch-hitting is amazingly skillful – but it’s not fair,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“It’s very simple. Maxwell hit a couple of (switch-hit) shots and Warner did (Sunday) night. All you’ve got to say is that if the batsman changes the order of his hands or his feet (as the bowler runs in), then it’s an illegal shot,” he said.

Leg-spin great Shane Warne, holds a similar view. “As a bowler, we have to nominate what hand we’re bowling with, and what side of the wicket we’re bowling with,” Fox Sports quoted Warne as saying on Wednesday.

“I’m setting a field to a right-hand batsman, so now when they switch-hit, I’m actually bowling to a left-hand batsman. I’m not sure I like it. It’s worth a discussion, worth a debate to work out what’s the right thing. Maybe the bowler can run up behind the umpire and bowl over or around,” he added.

On the other hand, former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy, says the shot should not be banned and that bowlers need to get better.

Former umpire Simon Taufel, who was also a member of the ICC’s elite panel, opined that it would not be practical to prohibit the shot.

“The game of cricket is not a science, it’s an art. We’re not perfect. When we say that we want to ban that type of shot how does the umpire officiate that? It’s impossible,” Taufel said.

“The umpire has an enormous number of decisions – front foot, back foot, protected area, seeing where a ball is hit – it’s impossible to have an official then watch for the changing of the grip or stance. It’s an impossible ask for a standing umpire to make that determination

“We can’t make a law that we can’t apply.”

When Maxwell was asked his opinion, he defended his use of the switch hit and said, “It’s within the laws of the game.”

“I think batting has evolved in such a way that it’s just got better and better over the years which is why we’re seeing these massive scores getting chased down and scores are going up.

“I suppose it’s up to the bowlers to try and combat that, and the skills of bowlers are being tested every day,” he added in the post-match interview.

What do the rules say-

In a statement released in 2012, the ICC had said, “In May 2009, the ICC Cricket Committee endorsed an MCC view that the switch-hit was an exciting shot, which offered the bowlers a good chance of taking a wicket and thus one which should remain a legitimate part of the game.

“With the more frequent and skilful use of the switch hit, the committee again considered the matter from the perspective of retaining a fair balance between bat and ball,” it concluded.

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