Watching Joe Root score his maiden ODI ton for England after suffering a nasty blow to his right thumb it reminded me of a similar incident when my club captain scored a ton with a broken right thumb. It also reminded me of Adam Gilchrist’s 2007 World Cup Final 149 off 104 balls against Sri Lanka. During that innings, Gilchrist batted with a squash ball inside the glove of his bottom hand. Why the connection? Top hand dominance is seen by many coaches as an important factor in batting success and as such coaches encourage batters to grip the bat lightly with the bottom hand. However, under pressure, there is a tendency to ‘choke’ the bat with the bottom hand which limits the ability to keep the bat swing straight. Gilchrist’s coach came up with this innovative constraint to help him solve this problem. As his coach says “”I’ve worked with him for 10 years and he has an unusual grip in which his hand goes too far around the back of the bat. (The squash ball) is a great big lump in your glove but it means that you can only use your bottom hand in a V. It is hard to get around the back of the bat with it, which means he improves his grip. ”
As for Joe Root, perhaps the injury to his thumb resulted in a a conscious (or subconscious) ‘loosening’ of his bottom hand grip and helped him secure what will hopefully be the first of many ODI tons for England.