What’s the story?
Renowned for taking the attack to the opposition bowlers, David Warner is the quintessential modern-day batsman who does not shy away from employing unorthodox means to achieve his end. However, the opener was surprisingly hesitant to use his highly effective switch-hit despite being repeatedly troubled by Ravichandran Ashwin.
Interestingly, it was his lack of awareness for the leg-before rules that came in the way of him bringing out the switch-hit.
When asked if the thought of unfurling the switch-hit crossed his mind, Warner ruminated, “Yeah, the last Test I was contemplating that. 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.”
Ashwin has got the better of Warner nine times thus far in Tests. As with every other off-spinner, he prefers bowling to southpaws rather than right-handers. The first innings in the Bengaluru Test saw the opening batsman undone by the sharp turn from the rough area outside his leg-stump. However, the wily spinner operated mostly from over the wicket in the second innings and trapped his prey with a fuller delivery.
The heart of the matter
Against an off-spinner capitalising on the rough area from awkward angles, the switch-hit is not a bad ploy to force him to change his line. However, Warner has relied more on the conventional sweep due to a confusion in the rules of the game.
With the switch-hit involving the batsman changing his grip after the bowler’s well into his delivery stride, the shot has been met with hesitancy.
Extra Cover: Top players of the switch hit
Despite pondering a rule change in 2012 which would have allowed the switch-hit employing batsman to be given out even if the ball was pitching outside the leg-stump, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided against it.
In the following year, the custodians of the game’s rules in the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) ruled that the switch-hit will remain a part of the game with no exceptional leg-before rules attached to it.
The current leg-before law states that the batsman’s stance at the moment when the bowler gets into his action determines the off and leg part of the wicket. As a result, the switch-hit bound batsman cannot be adjudged leg-before if the ball pitches outside the leg-stump as long as he changes his grip and/or alters his stance only after the bowler begins his run-up.
With the series locked at 1-1, the third Test in Ranchi assumes extra significance. It will be interesting to see if Warner decides to bring out his switch-hit when Indian skipper Kohli tosses the ball to Ashwin.
The above incident reiterates why it’s extremely important for a cricketer to keep himself/herself updated with the game’s rules. Conversely, the ICC also has a responsibility to conduct frequent workshops to help both the players, as well as viewers, become acquainted with such intricate laws.