Australia v Sri Lanka. MCG. Adam Gilchrist walks off the MCG for the last time after smashing 83.
Australia v Sri Lanka. MCG. Adam Gilchrist walks off the MCG for the last time after smashing 83.

FROM THE GRANDSTAND: Do lefties have an advantage?

EARLIER this month, the world paused to celebrate left handed week.

Now, most people know that the famous Michelangelo is the best known of them. He wasn’t an artist you know, but an engineer.

Needless to say, everyone in the grandstand started looking elsewhere – to our sporting stars. Nigel is a leftie but has been considered ‘different’ for other reasons.

What I was surprised to learn is that there are quite a few talented sportsmen who are right handed but chose to play their game of choice left handed. True.

There is only one sport in the world where it is illegal to play left handed. Do you know what it is? It’s not an Olympic sport but is played all around the world. It’s restricted for safety reasons.

My favourite left hander was the great West Indian cricketer, Sir. Garfield Sobers. In test matches he could open the bowling and then come in and bowl spin later in the innings.

As a batsman he was sublime. Often accused of being carefree and not valuing his wicket enough it was no surprise to hear Don Bradman call one of his innings the best he had seen.

Sobers loved his golf as well and was often on the golf course when not in the nets. He loved it. Now here’s the interesting fact. He got his handicap as low as two when he stopped playing cricket.

But wait, there’s more. Would you believe he was off a handicap of four when playing a right hander.

In this June 3, 1969, file photo, Rod Laver of Australia, returns the ball as he defeats Andres Gimeno of Spain, during the quarter-finals of the men's singles of the French Open tennis championship at Roland-Garros stadium in Paris. No man since Rod Laver in 1969, and no woman since Steffi Graf in 1988, has completed a true Grand Slam. (AP Photo/Bodini, File)
In this June 3, 1969, file photo, Rod Laver of Australia, returns the ball as he defeats Andres Gimeno of Spain, during the quarter-finals of the men's singles of the French Open tennis championship at Roland-Garros stadium in Paris. No man since Rod Laver in 1969, and no woman since Steffi Graf in 1988, has completed a true Grand Slam. (AP Photo/Bodini, File)

Our greatest tennis player Rod Laver was a leftie. Today, one of the best is Rafael Nadal who has been near the top for decades.

Strange thing is he is right handed but plays left. He was encouraged to do this by his coaching uncle. I’m not sure why you would do this, but it has worked.

There would be some reason in other sports. Take cricket for example (or even croquet in fact). When you are holding the bat/mallet you are coached not to let the favoured hand dominate.

That’s why Adam Gilchrist was such a clean hitter of the ball. He is right handed but batted as a leftie and that way his dominant hand was on top of the grip. I’m sure it works in tennis with those double handed backhands.

There must be some advantage of being left handed. I say that because the success rate is much higher for left handed tennis players. It’s nearly 40 per cent.

Not so in golf because courses have been designed with right handers in mind. Boxers are different. They can take their opponent by surprise. Manny Pacquiao is one of the best.

So although Pele and Babe Ruth were the very best of their respective sports, they would not have been allowed to play polo if they chose.



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