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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 14:37 GMT
Many hands make light work
By Paul Grunill

Australian coach John Buchanan is renowned as a progressive thinker.

Brett Lee and his mirror image
Could fast bowlers like Brett Lee ever become two-handed?

His methods do not suit everyone - indeed so many feathers were ruffled at Lord's during his spell in charge of Middlesex that he left the club after one season.

But the traditional way of doing things is not sacrosanct in Australia, and Buchanan's influence has helped them continue to dominate Test cricket and achieve a second successive World Cup win.

His latest blueprint, revealed in the wake of their 125-run win over India in the World Cup final, is to develop ambidextrous players who can field, bat - and possible even bowl - right and left-handed.

"One of the things on the drawing board back home is a think-tank about how the game is played and how we can play it differently.

"I believe we'll have players, hopefully by the next World Cup, who can use both sides of their body, so if they're a left-hander hopefully they'll be able to use the right side of their body and vice versa," explained Buchanan.

"Ian Harvey can already throw left and right handed and Adam Gilchrist is good on both sides of the body when he's hitting the ball....but obviously he does it reasonably well on one side at the moment so there's no reason to change it."

Switch-hitting is not unknown in baseball, but how feasible is Buchanan's plan?

He wants to be leading the field and is prepared to try things to get there
John Harmer on Buchanan

Fellow Australian John Harmer, coach of the England Women's team and an expert in biomechanics, believes there is no physical reason why young cricketers cannot develop two-handed skills.

"The body is good enough to do it, as long as you train it, and that's the key. To get to that level of proficiency doing it one way is many thousands of hours (work)," Harmer told the BBC Sport website.

"We're trying this, the English Women, to try and just up the skill level a little bit - not batting or bowling, but the very basic skills like underarm throws, that sort of thing."

Teaching seasoned pros to switch hit would be a long-term project in Harmer's view, although tactical benefits could result during a game.

"A left-hander plays a leg-spinner easier than a right-hander and if you were having trouble, you could switch over and bat left-handed. That could be done."

John Buchanan and fast bowler Andy Bichel
Buchanan and Andy Bichel grapple with a technical problem

But he regards the prospect of a bowler like paceman Brett Lee developing the ability to fire the ball down at over 90mph both right and left-handed as improbable.

And such a move by a bowler might also be seen as infringing the spirit of the game, as Buchanan himself acknowledges.

While bowling a slower ball has become a necessary one-day skill for seamers, Harmer believes both the umpires and batsman would have to be informed should a player switch to bowling with the other hand.

"You've got to inform the umpire or they might see it as cheating. If you told the umpire and the batter knew, that's be fine."

It would also add a whole new meaning to the phrase
'well-balanced attack'.

Lancashire coach Craig Smith
"It may have positive implications for the muscular skeletal system"

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