Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Switch Hit

Switch hitter
The question is being asked of Fantasy Bob.  Where does he stand on the switch hit? There is discussion about whether the laws of cricket should be changed either to prevent it, or to restore the balance to the bowler - so that the LBW law would reverse as the batsman changed sides.

This shot's origin is attributed to Kevin Pietersen in a one-day international against New Zealand in 2008 when he effectively changed from a right-hander to a left-hander just before the ball was delivered by the bowler.   A more recent example is by David Warner against India in a ODI in February this year when he creamed Ashwin for 100m. Also earlier this year it was the subject of controversy between Sri Lanka and England when Dilshan consistently pulled out of his bowling action when he apprehended KP was about to set up for the switch hit.  Administrators are in something must be done mode.
What does FB make of the evidence?

Is the switch hit skilful?  Yes, swapping hands and swapping feet position while watching the ball and preparing to hit all seems pretty skilful to FB.

Is the switch hit risky?  FB assumes there are occasions when the batter has tried it and failed - maybe even getting out but these are not reported.

But the game should reward risk taking and skill so these 2 factors tell in favour of the switch hit.

Is the switch hit exciting?  If big hits are your bag then it is exciting - but sixes are devalued currency in international cricket with thunderbats and shorter boundaries.  So the evidence here is unconvincing.

David Warner switch hitting
Is the switch hit unfair to the bowler?  When FB is bowling all strokes are unfair so it is difficult for FB to have a view on this.  However the bowler has to nominate which hand he is going to bowl with and which side of the stumps he is going to bowl so his opportunity for variation is limited.  But the bowler doesn't have to say that he is going to bowl a yorker, or a googly or whatever so he does have some advantage.

Bowlers can see when a batsman is going to come down the wicket to them and can frequently adjust.  Similarly they can see a batsman backing away to give themselves room and can follow them or put it wider down off side.  Being aware of the batter is part of bowling.  The movement to switch hit must be larger than either of these.  Perhaps if the bowler is aware of switch hitting as a possibility - and it remains very rare - then they will more attuned to it.  So while FB's natural sympathy is to the bowler he is not wholly convinced here.  Perhaps more latitude should be given on the interpretation of a wide, but that is about interpretation and not the laws and that is as far as FB would go.

Would FB employ the switch hit?  Most certainly.

Could FB switch hit?  Not if he practiced for the rest of the century.  He can barely hit the ball with his hands and his feet firmly placed in their original position.  At present it remains a Any attempt to curb the shot seems only an expression of jealously.

So, FB remains marginally in favour of the switch hit and is unconvinced that the rules need too much tampering.  His worldwide readership should note that this opinion is likely to last only until the stroke appears in the lower leagues of the East of Scotland Cricket Association.  The day it is used against his world famous inswinger, FB will campaign tirelessly for rules changes.  If necessary this will involve the hands of batsmen being glued in one position.

In the lower leagues the rules changes will have to reflect the fact that many batsmen have no idea whether they are right handed or left handed in the first place.  There is therefore much for administrators to ponder.


  1. An interesting debate and one tailor-made for Test Match Special. Commentators can discuss it for hours during lunch, tea and rain breaks - and have done since the reverse sweep first appeared all those years ago. Where does FB stand on the switch hit? Well out of the way, if he has any sense.

    1. Regrettably such is the geriatric quality of FB's fielding these days that well out of the way is now his specialist field position.

  2. Its the question of where this takes us FB. At this rate batsmen will be allowed to even change their sex while at the crease and bowlers will have to bowl after a print-out of the exact specification of the upcoming delivery is presented to the batsmen for his approval and review. It will read something like ...."Right arm over and between, shiny side facing the slips, seam held 5 degree off the verticle, 2 fingers on the seam above one thumb below, will pitch 15 yards in lenght with the line 5 inches outside off, moving inwards in the air and no movement after pitching..." Is that okay with you sir? The sir/maam in this case is the batsman

  3. FB is very pleased to hear from you again. He is sure that the ICC will take your suggestions seriously. The telegraphed delivery is a more potent weapon than you suggest - how may times does a bowler post 2 men back on the leg side boundary indicating a bouncer is coming whereupon the batter responds by smacking it straight to one of them.

    1. Now you are accusing the batsmen of having analytical brains...