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MCC looking at switch hit options

MCC’s Laws Sub Committee is examining at the Laws in relation to the switch hit, which has caused the ICC to consider introducing a new playing regulation.

Kevin Pietersen was involved in an incident with Tillakaratne Dilshan during his match-winning century against Sri Lanka in Colombo in April, where the England batsman was warned for time wasting.

The shot, and its impact on the Laws, has become en emotive issue within the game and has led to MCC – the Guardians of the Laws of cricket – to analyse various options.

The ICC implement regulations and directives effective to international cricket only, in addition to the Laws. They are considering batsmen opening themselves up to being out LBW in their alternative stance when playing the switch hit.

However, as MCC Laws Manager Fraser Stewart explained to Sky Sports in an interview on 10 May, the issue contains a host of complications.

He said: “MCC is considering all the Laws related to this in full and it is taking up a lot of debate both at MCC and the ICC for many reasons.

“As for the relaxation of the LBW law it may not be as easy as it sounds because you have first got to define what a switch hit is.

“Before the ICC change their regulations or indeed MCC changes the Laws, there needs to be a very clear definition on what a switch hit is.”

While the switch hit as a shot has become part of regular cricket terminology, players such as Pietersen and David Warner have developed different techniques for playing the shot – either by switching their hands and feet, or just one of the two.

An ICC directive to their umpires, implemented in 2010, stated that bowlers were able to back out of a delivery before entering their delivery stride if they see the batsman shaping to play a switch hit.

Pietersen was warned for time wasting against Sri Lanka under this directive, as the Umpire – in this case Asad Rauf – decided the batsman had shaped to play a shot before the bowler had entered his delivery stride.

MCC and ICC, who work very closely together in developing new Laws and regulations, differed slightly in their approach to this directive, as Stewart explained.

“Right and left-handed is not something which is defined in the laws – I guess it’s something which we have come to know and accept over time,” he said.

“What Warner was doing which prompted the ICC directive was standing with a left-handed stance but a right-handed grip.

“By doing that the fielding captain was within his rights to say I don’t know whether he is left-or-right handed. We felt that was not quite right and that the fielding side has a right to consider which way they stand from the start of the bowler’s run-up.

"So you would need to decide if he has a mixed stance which is the off and which is the leg side.

“If the ICC do bring out a directive of some sort, it needs to be very carefully worded and well defined so that Umpires know exactly where they stand before the game starts.”

MCC’s Laws sub committee has previously declared its support for the switch-hit shot, deciding that the risks involved for the batsman, coupled with the excitement and innovation in the stroke, outweighed the negative aspects.

Laws and regulations?

One issue which has caught the public attention in recent years is the difference between the Laws of Cricket and the various playing conditions or directives added to international cricket.

Because of unprecedented advances in technology and resources available to international and first-class umpires in recent years (from the third umpire to DRS) the ICC has felt it right to amend certain aspects of the Laws to the international game.

However, the Laws of Cricket are designed to be relevant at all levels of the game, from the village green upwards, where such technology is not available.

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