Australia in India 2017 March 12, 2017

Warner shelves switch-hit due to apparent misinterpretation of law

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David Warner on why he did not try the switch-hit off R Ashwin in Bengaluru

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • incogn3678149 on March 14, 2017, 11:50 GMT

    This is BS on part of Warner. I'm sure he knows the rules very very well. Either he is foxing and threatening to switch hit just to give the bowlers something to worry about. Or making an excuse for failing to deliver the so called switch hit. How come the Aussies suddenly forgot the rules of cricket - Switch hits, DRS et al. Maybe they will come out to bat with a base-ball bats come the third Test!

  • Sandeep on March 14, 2017, 5:57 GMT

    If a batsman is allowed to change stance from left to right at the last moment, the bowler should also be allowed the same!! Bowlers get a raw deal always!!

  • carl on March 13, 2017, 18:36 GMT

    drs is not the problem, interpretation is, an edge or non edge, hitting pad before bat, pitching outside leg, ok great, helps find the correct decision, 2mm lbw overrulings or findings, complete rubbish, a mockery to the great game, has anybody got any idea? players play, spectators spectate, UMPIRES UMPIRE!! is it really so difficult, oh and kholis kholi

  • Jose on March 13, 2017, 16:07 GMT

    @St John Smythe on March 13, 2017, 8:13 GMT

    Lovely idea !

    By the way, I fully share the sentiments expressed by you in an earlier post of yours (on March 12, 2017, 11:16 GMT ).

  • R. on March 13, 2017, 12:34 GMT

    I agree with previous responses; A switch hitter should no longer have a defined leg stump so can be out regardless of where the ball pitches.

  • Ravi Kumar on March 13, 2017, 10:46 GMT

    If I recall right, KP had tried the switch hit a few times and the bowler (Dilshan?) had pulled out of his run up when he did so. In response, the umpires had told KP that he could receive a warning for time wasting, which the law provides for.

    So while Warner may indeed be able to try the switch hit, Ashwin would be perfectly within his rights to pull out of his bowling action, with the pain being on Warner, as that is how the law currently reads. Therefore this piece does not present an entirely accurate perspective.

  • Bernard Arthur on March 13, 2017, 10:42 GMT

    A very good idea, Leggie, I heartily agree with you.

  • Arjun Calidas on March 13, 2017, 10:36 GMT

    Comparing Warner to Sehwag is ludicrous.. Sehwag has a near 200 and a 150 in Australia. Has 100s in SA and England. Compare that with Warner's 4 hundreds outside Australia.. Three of them are in SA, compare them with a gazillion runs Sehwag has scored in SL and Pak.. And one on that UAE road of a pitch.. Not much of a comparison if you ask me..

  • guddum5477427 on March 13, 2017, 9:39 GMT

    if you switch hit to ashwin he goes to round the wicket and his incoming and outgoing create a lot of problem so it is best play normal cricket, not funny cricket, you are a experienced cricketer.

  • Sudhakar on March 13, 2017, 9:29 GMT

    At a time when factors are loaded so much against the bowlers, I would recommend that the ICC implements the rule wherein if the batsman tries to do either a reverse sweep or the switch hit, the ball pitched outside the leg stump in his original stance *also* comes into contention for the lbw. That is, he can be given out lbw for balls pitched outside either the off-stump or the leg-stump!! This will bring in the balance.

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