Evolution and adaptation are the rules of the nature that facilitate survival in the changing environment around us. While the rule predominantly applies to natural phenomena, the world of sport is an integral member of the same. Our beloved sport, cricket has evolved drastically in the last few years and there exist only a few similarities to the one which began several decades ago.
Considering the changing nature and commercialization of the game, players too have upgraded themselves be it playing different shots which we might have never heard of or bowling unique variations, compelling us to dive deep into the game for decoding the mystery of the same.
The switch hit is one such shot that has taken the cricketing world by storm and cricket lovers are increasingly playing this shot in their local tournaments or in some other exhibition game. The shot might appear easy and pleasing to the eye, but in reality demands immense strength, fitness and presence of mind to make the move just that split second before the bowler delivers the ball.
Few of the international stars have made a habit of playing the shot on one or more occasions in the game and changing up things in their favour. Here are the five batsmen who execute the switch hit on a consistent basis and leave the world awe-struck:
1. Kevin Pietersen
The former England batsman was the first to execute the shot in an international game. His continuous movement in the crease as it is makes it difficult for the bowler to execute his length and that’s were the batsman wins most of his battles.
His muscular physique and strong wrists help the batsman in clearing the boundaries with ease and accelerating the scoring during the slog overs. Pietersen changes his grip only slightly before making the switch and thus, the shot wasn’t an issue back then.
Pietersen used to whack the ball long and handsome over the point or covers the region and made the bowler scratch his head in search of some other option.
With this rich blend of classical and innovative shots, Pietersen carved a phenomenal career for himself and his name still remains relevant when people call the shot or see someone playing it with near-perfection as the man himself did during his playing days.
2. Colin Munro
The southpaw from New Zealand is a big hit when it comes to playing the T20 format. Given the short nature of the game, batsmen are often compelled to try a few things out of the box. For Munro, that means executing the switch hit with aplomb.
Opening the batting with a powerful right-handed batsman, Guptill, Munro is bestowed with the responsibility of providing flying starts and making the most of the first six overs. The switch hit comes of great help going against off-spinners who take the ball away and pose problems if negotiated as a genuine left-hander.
Munro’s fast hands and strong grip assists the batsman in depositing the ball to far distances in the stands. Just like Pietersen, he hits the ball over point or covers while making the shift to a right-handed batsman.
He is currently plying his trade for Scorchers at the BBL and given the presence of plenty of off-spin options in the Australian set-up, we could very well see the switch hit being executed on numerous occasions to beat the strong off-side field.
3. David Warner
The southpaw from New South Wales sits in the list of modern-day greats given his immaculate batting across all formats. Starting as a swashbuckling batsman in the T20 format, Warner has quickly made the requisite shift to suit all the 3 formats of the game and display a similar consistency and class when it comes to an opening at the biggest stage.
During the IPL, we have seen Warner using the reverse sweep against Narine to counteract his variations. Early in his career, the flamboyant left-hander used his muscle power and strong forehands to execute the switch hit and garner sixes at will. Normally, the aim is to clear the in-field but given the supreme strength of these batsmen, the boundary lines are left as a mere spectator.
Currently, the batsman is nursing his groin injury and getting fit for the Test series against India. While Test cricket is more about playing the conventional cricketing shots, we shouldn’t be surprised if Warner tries to execute a switch hit against the likes of Ashwin and Vihari, exploiting the vacant spaces in the outfield on the off-side.
4. Glenn Maxwell
The Australian all-rounder is known to be the most unorthodox batsman to have ever played the game for the country. There is uniqueness in every aspect of his batting, be it the awkward open-chested batting stance or the innovative shots that he plays.
We recently saw Maxwell pull off some switch hits against the likes of Chahal and the Indian pacers in the white-ball leg of the tour. Coming on the back of a dismal performance at the IPL, cricket watchers couldn’t believe on their eyes, witnessing the boundary hitting masterclass from Maxwell, who looked in proper stead going against the wonderful Indian bowlers.
Bowlers just cannot predict his move and follow him, making them look like minnows at the hands of a destructive Maxwell. His wide range allows him to fetch the ball away from his hitting arc and smack it to the top tear. We have seen Maxwell shuffling way across to his off-side and playing the ball on the on-side, which is hard on the bowlers, who search for the breathing space in the last few overs.
Having dominated the bowlers in the recently concluded limited-overs series against India, Maxwell will be expected to display a similar show for the Stars at the BBL, keeping their noses ahead in the gruelling tournament spanning almost 2 months.
5. AB De Villiers
Having procured the title of ‘Mr. 360’ for playing all-round the field, we need no rocket science to predict that the maestro has mastered the art of playing the switch hit as well.
He often sees ABD playing the scoop, reverse lap, uppercut to get the better of the bowlers, but it is the switch hit that is the most potent weapon in his batting arsenal. His sturdy physique, steady bat-lift and solid stance help the genius in clearing the biggest of boundaries with ease and playing those breathtaking cameos.
Inspite of possessing more than one option on a single ball, ABD never gets in a fuss and it’s ‘horses for courses’ for the legendary batsman. The last-minute adjustment that he makes is enough to execute his shots with perfection and garner optimum result.
He was at his enviable best at the recently concluded IPL and cricket fanatics just can’t wait to see him back in action, playing all the innovative shots and making light work of the opposition bowling attack.