While here at Reverse Sweep I am glad to see that Kevin Pietersen’s audacious strokemaking is keeping us in the spotlight – I think a couple of people landed on the blog after doing searches for KP and reverse sweep – I can’t help but think that referral of his unorthodox methods to the MCC is going a bit far. We wanted innovation, we’ve got innovation. To rule this illegal would be simply snottiness. – and pointless.
The majority of those playing the reverse sweep do not employ Pietersen’s methods and unless there are several other Pietersens out there with the ability not only to turn their bodies round mid-delivery but actually switch their bottom hand to become top hand and vice versa, surely his expertise in this area will remain unique.
If it is shown that there are other players who can imitate him with success, that might be a different matter, but I do not accept the argument that he has fooled the bowler by turning himself into a left-hander. If he does do it before the bowler has let go of the ball, the bowler is surely quite within his rights to pull out of the delivery. Otherwise, Pietersen is taking a calculated risk that he will be able to alter his stance and grip in the time available – and remember, with Styris, he was doing this with deliveries that reached 70mph.
To consider a change in the laws by which the direction to which he hits is now the leg-side is just over-complicating things. Mike Selvey, in The Guardian, poses the questions: “Which is leg stump and which is off? Would a slip, a gully and backward point, say, constitute three men behind on the leg side and so render the delivery a no-ball?”
The answers to these should be “The leg stump is still the leg stump” and “No, they wouldn’t.” For in either case, it would be penalising the bowler for what Pietersen had done. If he gets hit on the pads in line by a ball moving from outside the ‘official’ off stump, he would still be lbw. Three men behind the wicket on the ‘official’ off side would still be on the off side.
I think the cricket writers and commentators are making a brouhaha about this simply to have something to say or write about – the tendency of cricket anoraks to have something small to ponder rather than appreciating the bigger picture. There is an inability to enjoy the stroke for what it is.
When I was at school we had a boy who could both bat and bowl right-handed or left-handed. OK, so he didn’t change halfway through, but what talents to possess. That’s what we should savour about Pietersen’s innovation.