Give bowlers a hand by allowing them to change which arm they deliver the ball with

Today Sam Tomkinson argues that bowlers should be able change the arm they ultimately deliver the ball with during their run up. Do you agree?

The process of evolution is prevalent in life, and not just sport. Stand still and you are left behind. In technology, you lose the market and become obsolete. In the Serengeti, you are lunch. In sport you start to lose, and lose badly. As India found out in the T20 World Cup Semi Final, old methods become outdated and cricket moves on.

Though the reverse sweep had been around, and players had begun to experiment with the switch hit, it was Kevin Pietersen in 2008 who made most people take notice and look at the potential this shot could bring. Scott Styris could only smile wryly as KP swatted him for two maximums with the batting stance of a left hander (his usual set up being right handed).

Batters now use this as a viable shot across all formats. Some are so accustomed to using this method that they have started to take this up as a stance before the bowler has released the ball – think David Warner vs Gayle in the Canada T20 and Joe Root in the recent Rawalpindi Test Match.

But should they allowed to do this? A bowler must declare their action to the batter before they bowl or risk a no ball. Though you can see the stance quite clearly, a batter has no need to declare what “handed” they are. The only consequence is that all stumps are in now in play should there be an appeal for lbw. This was a positive change that gave the bowler more of a chance.

However, as the skills of the batter have evolved, the bowlers have not been allowed to adapt in the same way. My proposition is therefore this: allow the bowler to change their bowling hand mid run up. They, of course, cannot change the side of the wicket they’re bowling from – this would cause carnage – but why should bowlers have to notify the batsman (or umpire) which arm they’ll ultimately deliver the ball with?

This seems, to me, to be the next logical innovation for the game. Batters can set up as either right handers or left handers to open up the whole field, fielders are now working on their weaker hand to enhance their skill set, so why can’t bowlers have the same luxury?

Kamindu Mendis’s talent for bowling with both hands does not have much of an impact because he has to spell out his changeup – despite the fact that he possesses an extraordinary skill that could add an extra dimension to the game both tactically and as entertainment. Being able to bowl effectively with both hands is incredibly hard to master and should be encouraged rather than restricted.

Would this cause uproar? Maybe. But then so did the switch hit. What’s more, it would level up the playing field in what’s becoming an increasingly batter-dominated game.

From a descriptive aspect (on commentary) some adjustment would be required. What would you call a bowler who could to both arms? Slow Mixed? Ambidextrous Fast Medium? But this is a minor concern.

It’s therefore time to give my idea a go – perhaps in The Hundred or T10 at first to see how it goes. However, this rule-change could be far more than a gimmick; it could be the next development in cricket’s ever-evolving tapestry.

Sam Tomkinson


  • I suppose the advent of the reverse sweep has changed the game for spin bowlers so why not give them a chance to get their own back. Can’t see this working at the top level unless it’s used to rough up the pitch on both sides for red ball second innings with footmarks all over the place for the spinners. It’s much tougher for bowlers to to be ambidextrous than batters. At a pinch I can bat left handed but trying to bowl is a non starter. You might get the occasional freak but there’s nothing stopping that now, as long as they tell the umpire beforehand so guards and sightscreens can be moved. There’ve been a few ‘windmill’ bowlers whose action was so vertical it could be left or right for the batsman, Mike Proctor being the most famous. I played against one in Steve Perryman, the Warwickshire seamer, who could be difficult to pick bowling round the wicket.
    Ultimately can’t see this catching on as a trend though, it’s too complicated a skill to perfect, even throwing equally well with both hands is virtually unknown. You’d have to start very young to make it natural.

  • It’s a non starter as far as I’m concerned. Reverse hitting is not comparable. In serious cricket no bowler can bowl even remotely as well with the ‘wrong’ hand, but by all means try it in the Hundred !

  • Simpler to even up by changing the lbw law – if the ball is going to hit the stumps, that’s out. Never mind where it pitches or if the batsman has played a shot.

  • World Rugby has sent the game up its own fundament with constant – 25yrs – of tinkering with the games laws.

    Why should cricket do the same? The Hundred is a clear warning of what happens when you mess around with a good product.

  • When endless white-ball cricket becomes obvious as the dull and shallow experience it undoubtedly is, along come the gimmicks to try to save the unsaveable….

  • I think perhaps that Sam believes that it’s 1st April and not 1st January.

    Happy New Year to all cricket-lovers, especially of this excellent blog

  • There is a sri lankan spinner who bowls with either arm and he is fairly poor with both. Its hard enough to be a world class bowler with one arm.

    • I think this article is actually meant to be a joke? Surely the writer is not serious.

      Happy New Year to all.


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