17 June 2008

How dare you show extreme talent Pietersen!

I've never known such a load of fuss over such a non-issue as Pietersen's left-handed shots he played in the ODI versus New Zealand on Sunday. If he had got out playing them, would have anyone have said they had to be made illegal? I doubt it.

Several years ago, back in the days when Channel 4 had rights to cricket, they did a morning show before play one Sunday. I remember watching Dermot Reeve explain the 3 versions of the reverse sweep - one way of playing it was to turn around and play it left-handed while switching the hands (for a right-hander). That was many years ago and not one of the pros raised an issue. Mark Nicholas was presenting and (as always) was gushing in his praise for Reeve and the innovations he and Warwickshire had brought to the game.

All of a sudden, because someone does something extremely well, the MCC are apparently meeting to discuss if it should be allowed. Why not just let the bowlers sort it out by getting him out as David Lloyd argues - he only plays the shot because it gets runs and as soon as it doesn't he and others will stop. I wonder if one of the reasons they are concerned is that Pietersen's reverse sweeping (I love the fact that now it goes for 6 it's called "switch hitting" where as the same shot for a single down to 3rd man was a reverse sweep) is coming under scrutiny is, in part, one of the reasons he gave for it. He mentioned that the leg side boundary was massive while the off-side one was short, so it made sense to aim for the shorter boundary. It does make sense, but it also raises questions as to why an international match wasn't played with proper size boundaries both sides and further scrutiny on that point wouldn't be welcomed.

Some idiotic questions have been asked by some seasoned cricket commentators and journalists on this issue. How does the LBW law work? Exactly as it does at the moment - for Pietersen who is right-handed when the bowler starts his run up, he is treated as a right-hander whether he turns around and plays left-handed, or if he does a hand stand or forward roll for that matter. Do 3 fielders behind square on the off-side mean that when he turns round, the ball should be called a no-ball? Of course not Mike Selvey - what a strange comment to make! What is a wide now that the batsman has changed position? The umpire simply uses common sense as he does at the moment when a player moves to the leg-side to make room to hit over the off-side.

I hope the MCC don't stifle new shots (or in this case an old shot just played better) - it smacks of WG Grace putting the bails back on and telling the bowler that the crowd had come to see him bat. If they make a mess of their decision, they may find that unofficial games of "real cricket" start to get played where some common sense is used and the laws are made to benefit the players (including the bowlers who have a greater chance of getting a wicket when the batsman turns round as Pietersen did) and spectators, rather than for the benefit of jobsworths somewhere who would like to add yet more laws to an already complicated game.


GROV said...

I think that the shot should be banned and things evened up by calling a no ball if the ball hits the edge of the bat and make that two if the ball is caught. If the bowler hits the stumps that should be at least six runs to the batsman and then my real average would rocket up.

None of the above is any more stupid than the MCC discussing whether the reverse sweep should be allowed. As you say, there are enough laws and guidelines so leave skill alone (except when I am batting).

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with both of you and am glad to see the MCC has made the sensible decision.

The argument that the bowler has to say which side he is going to bowl from is also a stupid one. I actually think that the side the bowler delivers the ball from is not really for the batsman. Admittedly I am not one, but I do not think it would peturb me not knowing which side. Much more of a problem in this regard is the non-striker knowing where to stand, the umpire knowing which side to look at for no-balls and the fact that a lot of cricket clubs don't have two sightcreens at each end.

This is even more ridiculous when you consider that Murali gets away with chucking it!

He does!!!!! I like him but he does. Fact.