Warner shelves switch-hit due to apparent misinterpretation of law
David Warner is among the few batsmen in the world capable of successfully executing a switch-hit. It was an option he could have used against R Ashwin in Bengaluru, when the offspinner bowled over the wicket to him, targeting the rough outside his leg stump. Warner, however, has said he chose not to try it - not because of the inherent risk involved, but due to an apparent misunderstanding of the lbw law.
Ashwin has dismissed Warner nine times in Test cricket, including twice in Bengaluru. During a media interaction on Saturday, a journalist asked Warner if he was thinking of using the switch-hit as a way to combat him.
"Yeah, the last Test I was contemplating that," Warner said. "I tried to play a reverse-sweep. The only concern for me was the variable bounce, that's always the challenging thing because if you miss that and you switch-hit, you can still be given out lbw, but if you reverse-sweep, you can't, so you've got to be careful."
Unlike the reverse-sweep, the switch hit involves the batsman changing his grip on the bat handle as well as reversing his stance, after the bowler has begun his run-up. In May 2012, the ICC mulled a change in the lbw law, wherein a batsman attempting a switch-hit could be given out lbw even if the ball pitched outside his leg stump.
No such law change, however, has been passed since, with the MCC ruling in May 2013 that the switch-hit should remain a legitimate part of the game, with some leeway afforded to bowlers in limited-overs cricket with regards to wide balls.
As the lbw law currently stands, the batsman cannot be given out lbw if the ball has pitched outside his leg stump. The law also defines the off - and leg - side of the batsman's wicket as being "determined by the striker's stance at the moment the ball comes into play for that delivery".
The ball, according to Appendix D of the MCC's Laws, comes into play when "the bowler starts his run up or, if he has no run up, his bowling action". This means that the definitions of leg side and off side will not change if a batsman changes his grip and reverses his stance after the bowler has begun his run-up.
Warner, in effect, could not have been given out had he tried switch-hitting Ashwin in Bengaluru, missed, and been struck on the pad, so long as the ball pitched outside his leg stump.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo