x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Big-hitting Kevin Pietersen unfazed by switch-hit debate

The England batsman made 151 to put England in the driving seat of the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Kevin Pietersen scored his 20th Test hundred against Sri Lanka.
Kevin Pietersen scored his 20th Test hundred against Sri Lanka.

Kevin Pietersen had no complaints about the warning he received during his stunning 151 in the second Test against Sri Lanka, but has warned that umpires must be careful not to penalise attacking batsmen.

Pietersen's 20th Test hundred, a masterclass of aggression and timing which contained six sixes and 16 fours, was also notable for the fact that Asad Rauf formally cautioned him for changing his position at the crease before the bowler's delivery stride.

Pietersen produced a variety of strokes to combat a defensive leg-side field - including, but not limited to, his old favourite switch-hit.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was unhappy with how early Pietersen was shifting his position and grip and twice aborted his run-up, leading to Rauf's intervention.

Had Pietersen transgressed again, Englandfaced a five-run penalty.

The batsman admitted he did not have a clear grasp on the relevant laws but suggested the inherent risk involved in playing that way should be enough to satisfy the bowler.

"There's no drama, no issue, I just got my timing wrong," he said, after batting England into a 181-run lead at the close of play on day three as they were bowled out for 460, before Sri Lanka survived a James Anderson over to end the day on four without loss.

"He (Rauf) said it was a warning because I moved my hands too quickly and I was okay, it was cool.

"But like I said when I first played the shot against New Zealand all those years back (in 2008): I don't think the batter should get penalised because I'm the one taking the biggest risk.

"If I saw a batter do that I'd be licking my lips.

"I don't understand the rules, it's just something I found out mid-innings today at a pretty unfortunate time."

Despite popularising, if not inventing, the switch-hit it has been somewhat off the agenda for Pietersen in the last couple of years, with others such as Australia's David Warner picking up the baton.

But he indicated he was once again happy to use the stroke as part of his armoury - a fact that does not appear likely to change due to his censure.

"I don't find that shot too difficult, I find it a fairly simple shot and you can manipulate fields when they bowl a leg-stump line," he said.

"I've always said I'll play to that side of the field when there are no fielders there and I think it's a shot worth playing. There are a lot of permutations of the shot.

"I just have to switch my hands a little bit later...you learn new things every day."

Sri Lanka, who will attempt to bat their way back into the game when they resume, are coached by Pietersen's batting mentor Graham Ford.

Ford is a long-time family friend of Pietersen, who sought him out for advice before the 2010-11 Ashes series.

Having denied responsibility for the creation of the switch-hit, Ford declared himself happy with the way the match officials policed the shot's use here.

"It was nothing to do with me, that (switch-hit) is something only an inventive player like Kevin would come up with along the way," he said.

"But I think the rule is quite clear: if the batsman sets himself up for the switch prior to the bowlers' release and he is able to stop, the warning is issued.

"Just about every single one he did, he set himself up prior to release except for the ones just after the warning.

"I think it was all handled pretty well."