Sports Letter: Left or right?

Norman Harris
Tuesday 27 July 1999 23:02
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Sir: Regarding left-handers in sport (27 July), it seemed to be interesting news for the sporting world when, in the early 1980s, a connection was established between dyslexia and differing use of the hemispheres of the brain. In part, the equation meant that left-handed people who were prone to word/speech problems enjoyed the compensation of greater spatial awareness.

Accordingly, I conducted research among some 200 first-class cricketers, and later footballers (especially goalkeepers), orienteers and snooker players. Occasionally a genuine left-hander popped up who had been good at technical drawing at school and also felt tongue-tied in public; but in general little evidence emerged to suggest inherent advantages for left-handed sportsmen (other than those of a strategical nature).

What did emerge, however, was that those cricketers who batted left-handed were not only naturally right-handed writers, throwers, hammerers, etc (as pointed out by Matt Gatward), but that they were significantly more right-hand dominant than the "real" right-handed batsmen. Clearly, that imbalance between the hands had dictated a need to reverse the normal top and a bottom hand and, accordingly, turn around and bat as a "left- hander".

One speculates that for all the undoubted talent of the David Gowers of this world, their flowing cover drives owe their style to a highly dominant top hand with weaker than normal control from the bottom hand.

What is perhaps more relevant - and an interesting area for development - is the possible advantages of having mixed-handed ability, especially in a two-handed business like batting. If you can write with one hand and use scissors or hammer a nail with the other (as the Australian captain Allan Border could do), lose no time in trying cricket or golf.

NORMAN HARRIS

Allendale, Northumberland

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