England using hurleys to develop lovely wristy cricketers

England’s cricketers have been training with hurleys to develop stronger wrists.

And scientific research suggests all cricketers should take a leaf out of hurling’s book in the way players hold the bat.

Former Hampshire player Julian Wood has been coaching development side England Lions ahead of a four-week training camp in the UAE. And hurleys have played a regular part in the group’s get-togethers at Loughborough in Leicestershire.

Wood told the Times that, because the hurley is much lighter than a cricket bat, strong wrists are needed to get any distance on a hit.

He said: “You cannot get much power on a cricket ball from one of them unless your wrists are very quick, and if you look at someone like Jos Buttler (England one-day batsman) you see the value of being able to really whip your hands through the ball.”

England head coach Andy Flower backed the experiment: “It is not a cure or an amazing innovation that will change batting, but it is something that brings a little bit of variety and interest to training and might just stimulate the odd person in the right direction.”

Research published in Sports Medicine this year claims cricket has much to learn from sports like hurling, suggesting most cricketers hold the bat with the wrong grip.

Young cricketers are traditionally taught the ‘golf grip’, that is to place their dominant hand at the bottom of the handle with their weaker hand at the top.

But the study found batters who bet with their stronger hand on top - the traditional hurling grip - have a much better chance of reaching first class and international standard.

The study highlights big-hitters such as West Indian Chris Gayle and England all-rounder Ben Stokes as successful batsmen who bat the “wrong way”.

England's Eoin Morgan - who played hurling as a youngster - also fits this bill.

Professor Peter Allen, of Anglia Ruskin University, who led the study of 136 cricketers, 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."

Dr David Mann, a scientist in human movement at VU University in Amsterdam, told the Telegraph: "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.

"The results suggest by teaching batsmen to use a conventional stance coaches may be inadvertently teaching players to bat 'back-to-front' and could be harming their players' chances of developing expertise.”

Half of Australian batsmen use the unorthodox grip as do 40% of English and 33% of South African, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi cricketers, found the study.

Prof Allen added: "We have limited our study to cricket, but the results may apply to other sports. 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.”

Interestingly, when Tipp All-Ireland winner Brendan Maher, a right-handed hurler with a traditional grip, joined up with the Adelaide Strikers as part of ‘The Toughest Trade’ documentary series, he faced deliveries off his left, backhand side.


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