When I first played this wonderful game of ours, at least 40% of the players used their top hand.
Then we were faced with the problems of the bat manufacturers being unable to make light bats and we were forced to use bats which were far too heavy and the artistry of batting disappeared.
I remember coming back from Australia in 1973 and asking Duncan Fearnley to make a bat for me. As always, he made a beauty for me, but it was 2lb, 10oz. After 10 minutes in the nets my top hand and arm were aching and I was forced to pick the bat up with the bottom hand, so at the end of the backlift it was pointing to third man! This just makes batting very difficult.
There is little we can do about our present day players, but now it is possible to get lighter bats, I want all our coaches to teach our youngsters to take the bat back with the top hand. From there batting becomes simple.
A few years ago, I picked up a bat during an England XI v The Rest of the World game. Two very distinguished opening batsmen immediately said “How did you ever get any runs holding the bat like that?” I didn’t tell them how many – it might have embarrassed them.
To clarify my grip, the back of my top hand faced between mid-off and extra cover and the wrist acted as a pendulum, the bat went back straight and came down straight – very simple.
Please, coaches, give our youngsters an alternative to the present fad of having the wrist almost behind the handle. If you get it right you are always playing with the full face of the bat.