Friday, February 3, 2012

T20 at Melbourne : Switch hit; Southern Stars and White Ferns


The Cricket World has been ever changing.  Remember that in my childhood days, the pitch would be covered and guarded – the  covers would be off only few hours before the match. Players would not be allowed nearer the playing arena and the way it would look and behave would remain a secret, would be the topic of hot debates. 

This morning saw a match between Southern Stars and White Ferns – a T20 International at that – and the venue was Melbourne ! Surprising, yes today India play Australia at the same venue later in the day and there are talks of another whitewash threat looming large.  A logical analysis in a 2 match series may not be all that appropriate but this match at Melbourne has already started many a debates.

A bowler cannot change his action and if he were to change his bowling from over the wicket to round the wicket, he has to inform the Umpire and the Umpire would soundly tell the batsman so.  A fielder cannot move from out of his position during delivery stride, especially when field restrictions are on.  At Sydney, it was awesome – when David Warner struck Ashwin into a clean 100m hit over long-off fence – was that a long off or long on ? – because David Warner a left hander, seconds before the delivery became a right hander and tonked it out of vicinity. 

Warner left and right

That one shot has generated quite some controversy with many questioning the legality of switch-hitting.  Kevin Pietersen had already shown the way it could be played; Paul Nixon also played it.  Some contend that  the batsman gains an unfair advantage by effectively changing from a right-hander to a left-hander or otherwise. The main argument was that the field placing is set for a right-handed batsman and this switch hitting can give a batsman undue advantage of field placement.  David Hussey feels that is innovative, legal and just right. 

Unlike the struggling India, Australia has been making experiments for building a Team for the T20 WC to be played at Sri Lanka this year. David Hussey said that they are looking for perfect game to make it 2-0 in the second Twenty20 international at the MCG here in Melbourne.  

White Ferns are the New Zealand Women’s Cricket team, just as Black Caps are the Mens Team of NZ.   The name White Ferns, is derived from the use of the fern as New Zealand's sporting emblem.  Team Australia is Southern Stars.  This is a 5 match T20 series – Aussies won the first 3 matches and in the 4th one  at Sydney Olympic park, NZ won by 6 wickets with 5 balls to spare.  Today the last match is being played at Melbourne. 

Sydney T20 was well attended and today a capacity crowd close to 90000 would be braying for Australian win.   There would be  Flinch, Matthew Wade, Mckay, David Hussey and George Bailey.  Wade was the man of the match in the last match, has played 3 but is yet to take a catch as a wicket keeper !

Warner has made runs with bravado and made that sensational switch hit which travelled long ! – entertainment extravaganza.  In baseball, a switch-hitter is a player who bats both right-handed and left-handed.  The switch hit also called Palti Hit (Palti in Hindi refers to Reverse) is a modern cricket shot first used by Kevin Pietersen  in June 2008 in a ODI against  New Zealand when he effectively changed from a right-hander to a left-hander just before the ball is delivered by the bowler for the purpose of executing the shot. There are innovations – scoop over the wicket keeper or over fineleg inside the circle, reverse sweep and now the switch- hit.  It certainly is very difficult to play.

Incidentally, are you aware that England are the current champions in Two.  The inaugural 2007  ICC World Twenty20,  staged in South Africa in Sept 2007 was won by India.   The second event,  held in England in June 2009 was won by Pakistan; third held in May 2010 hosted by West Indies was won by England defeating Australia by 7 wickets. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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