Kevin Pietersen's Left-Handed Sixes: Innovative or Illegal?

Jon NaylorSenior Analyst IJune 15, 2008

England's one-day trouncing of New Zealand brought with it not only a magnificent innings from youngster Owais Shah and a timely return to form of captain Paul Collingwood, but a century for England stalwart Kevin Pietersen.

However, Pietersen's unbeaten 110 was significant for two big reasons—namely two crunching sixes through the off side.

Or at least what should have been the off side. Switching his stance to that of a left-hander, he walloped Scott Styris for a pair of incredible maximums that confounded everything seen before in cricket, including a strike over long-on that seemed to flay the leather off the ball.

After seeing the ball sail back over his head, Styris' face sported a look similar to that of a toddler asked the square root of 519.

The South African-born number three hit with the style, panache, and accuracy that some conventional left-handers still can't achieve. Hitting right out of the screws, he cleared the field and the rope with consummate ease.

In the post-match interview, Pietersen admitted to rehearsing the strokes extensively in the nets, hinting that these are shots that could be in his arsenal for years to come.

However, during the play, commentator Michael Holding questioned the legality of switching to a left-hander mid-ball, likening this to a bowler swapping from over-the-wicket to around-the-wicket at the last moment.

The question is: should players be allowed to swap their stance in such a way?

As was pointed out, this was no ordinary reverse sweep, with KP altering his grip and feet to adopt a genuinely left-handed approach.

In my opinion, this could be the evolution of style that propels Pietersen from good batsman to sport-altering batsman. Similar to Murali's deceptive doosras that can bemuse many-a-cricketer, Pietersen switching stance can be the change of angle that forces bowlers to think time and again before deciding what to deliver.

It is far too early to hold this example up as the moment that changed his career, but if Pietersen can develop these left-handed shots into a genuine weapon, and if they are given the green light by the ICC, he can change the face of batting the world over.

To see KP's extraordinary shots, click here.

Are Pietersen's left-handed shots illegal? Should the rules be changed to allow the bowlers change angle at will? Please comment below.