Batting ‘wrong way’ in cricket is right way to go: study

Batsmen who bat the “wrong way” by adopting a reversed stance which means dominantly right-handed people batting left-handed and vice versa are more likely to succeed at the top level, according to scientists.

Batters who place their dominant hand at the top of the handle and their weaker hand at the bottom have a stunning advantage, says new research published in the scientific journal Sports Medicine that overturns what generations of cricket coaching manuals have advocated.

Youngsters are traditionally taught from school age to place their dominant hand at the bottom of the handle with their weaker hand at the top. But the new study found batters who hold their bats the other way round have a far better chance of reaching first class and international standards.

It suggests right-handers generate more power if they bat in the stance usually taught to left-handers and vice versa for left-handed players.

“We found that cricket batsmen who adopted a reversed stance had a stunning advantage, with professional batsmen 7.1 times more likely to adopt a reversed stance than inexperienced batsmen, independent of whether they batted right or left handed or the position of their dominant eye,” said the study authored by David L Mann, Oliver R Runswick and Peter M Allen.

Great left-hand batsmen like Brian Lara, Clive Lloyd, David Gower, Adam Gilchrist, Alistair Cook, Michael Hussey, Kumar Sangakkara and Matthew Hayden are actually right-hand dominant. They all therefore used a reversed stance.

Moreover, a reversed-stance advantage should also be evident for those who are left-hand dominant yet bat right handed and in support the study gives the examples of modern- day greats such as Michael Clarke and Inzamam-ul-Haq who batted right handed yet bowled with their left.

Even Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar, widely-considered as one of the best batsmen of the modern era, batted and bowled right-handed but is known to write with his left hand.

Professor Allen, from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, who led the study of 136 cricketers with a wide range of abilities, said, “The ‘conventional’ way of holding a cricket bat, with the dominant hand on the bottom of the handle, has remained basically unchanged since the invention of the game and is modelled on the stance used for other bi-manual hitting tasks.

“For instance, the first MCC coaching manual instructs batters to pick up a bat in the same manner they would pick up an axe. While that might be beneficial for beginners, switching to a reversed stance gives elite players a technical and visual benefit,” he said.

Dr Mann, a scientist in human movement at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam University, said: “The top hand is typically responsible for controlling and guiding the path of the bat to hit the ball so it appears to be an advantage for the dominant hand to perform this role.