Research shows 'reverse' stance pays

Professional players are seven times more likely to bat using their dominant hand as the top hand, research shows

New research in the UK and the Netherlands has shown that cricketers who bat the 'wrong' way - with their dominant hand at the top of the bat handle - have a winning advantage.

A new study published in the journal Sports Medicine this week has revealed that players whose top hand is also their dominant hand are far more likely to reach the top level of the sport.

In fact, professionals are seven times more likely to play this way than amateurs.

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Right-handed international cricketers who have used a left-handed batting stance include the likes of Brian Lara, Clive Lloyd, David Gower, Adam Gilchrist, Alistair Cook, Matthew Hayden, David Warner and Justin Langer.

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke as well as current Australia players Adam Voges, Aaron Finch and James Faulkner are all left-handers who bat right-handed.

A long-held theory in cricket coaching is that players should place their dominant hand lower down the handle.

Brian Lara
Brian Lara, a legendary player whose dominant hand was on top // Getty

But there has long been an anecdotal belief that the hand with the greatest dexterity - a person's dominant hand - should be on top as the top hand has a greater role in guiding and controlling the path of the bat to hit the ball.

And the study found that players who had a 'reverse' stance (right-handers batting left-handed, and vice versa) were far more effective.

"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," said Professor Peter Allen from Anglia Ruskin University, who co-authored the study of 136 cricketers, with David Mann from Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands, and Oliver Runswick from St Mary’s University London.

"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 benefit."

The study examined the hand-eye co-ordination of players ranging from international and first-class standard to amateur.

Allen suggested that the results of the study could also apply to a favourite pastime of many cricketers. 

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke batted right-handed and threw left-handed // Getty Images

"We have limited our study to cricket, but the results may apply to other sports," said Professor Allen.

"In golf, three of the four men to have won a Major playing left handed were right-hand dominant, while other legendary golfers, such as Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer, were left-hand dominant but played right handed.

"In many cases using a reversed stance has happened by chance. Golfer Phil Mickelson, a five-time Major winner, is right-handed but learned to play left-handed to mirror his father's right-handed swing.

"Michael Hussey, one of Australia's finest cricketers, is right-hand dominant but learned to bat left handed to emulate his childhood idol, Allan Border.

"In cricket, by adopting the conventional stance, batsmen may have been unintentionally taught to bat 'back-to-front' and might not have maximised their full potential in the game."