Rating and reviewing the wrong-handed bowling of three Sky Sports commentators

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The number one highlight of a friend’s stag-do was when we all took it in turns to throw stones into the sea using our ‘other’ arm. (Which is to say the non-doing arm – the left one for us.)

When throwing with your wrong arm, the more effort you put in, the worse you look. It is a highly entertaining pastime and we fully recommend it and also you should video your efforts and send us the footage.

Among the minor joys of Sky Sports’ coverage of England’s 2018 tour of Sri Lanka were the segments in which Nasser Hussain, Rob Key and Ian Ward – and really there’s no other way to put this – dicked about. One Hussain-Key-Ward dicking about segment was ostensibly about how difficult it is to bowl competently with your other hand – a feature inspired by Sri Lanka’s ambidextrous spinner, Kamindu Mendis.

That’s what it was supposed to be. In reality it was three middle-aged sportsmen laughing at each other’s incompetence while simultaneously getting really quite competitive.

Real, actual sportsmen are basically unhinged and don’t stop being unhinged just because they’ve retired. These three are among the more self-aware ex-cricketers and none takes himself too seriously, but even so they’re still super-competitive. This is what can happen to a person when they spend many years playing games for a living. Earlier in the tour, the three of them went up Sigiriya and for no reason at all it deteriorated into a race.

As for the other-handedness, let’s take a quick look and then give each of them a star rating.

Ward is admirably dreadful and almost immediately resorts to throwing (which is surely harder?)

“It’s like he’s never played anything,” observes Key – later adding: You’re the worst sportsman left-handed I’ve ever seen.”

Key is merely pretty bad but rather impressively appears to have difficulty running left-handed.

Hussain is, all things considered, good. He starts by bowling finger spin and then advances to doing impressions (at which point things become a little less good).

In summary:

  • Ian Ward is the worst and therefore the best – 4 stars (one star deducted for not persisting with it)
  • Rob Key is more adept at imposing and changing rules on the fly than bowling left-handed but can sort of aim and is therefore probably better than 90 per cent of the population – 3 stars (mostly for the run-up)
  • You’d definitely pick Nasser Hussain if you actually wanted to win a game, but thanks to his sickening competence, he is the least funny – 1 star

First published in October 2018.


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  1. They Key-Ward-Hussain buddy movie over the last couple of weeks has been genuinely brilliant. Have laughed out loud a few times at the podcasts, especially at Key and his Murali stories.

    Hussain and Key clearly have quite a lot of affection for each other, which coupled with the fact that they are clearly quite different in their outlook on general life and Ward playing his usual straight man role has been a bit of a joy. Sort of like if the fake Swanny/Vaughany/Tuffers (to a lesser extent) forced #madbantz was actually organic.

    1. “The Rob Key Podcast” as he seems to have taken to calling it is indeed very good. They do that thing of bouncing between having a laugh and tackling some fairly serious subjects very well. All three of them are genuinely funny people without needing ‘being funny’ to be some sort of defining quality.

      Whenever a commentator plays up to being the funny one, they pretty much instantly cease to be funny. David Lloyd is funny, but they give him too much leeway to do ‘material’.

  2. Curiously the order is reversed if one looks at their FC bowling averages bowling right (that is to say correct) handed.

    Although it has to be said the evidence is limited. Between them they’ve only taken 8 more wickets than I have.

  3. I fondly remember walking to University for about a month where I vowed to teach myself to throw left handed by picking up acorns and throwing them at things. One month later and it felt like I had actually gotten worse, why is it so hard and unnatural??

    1. Because it’s wrong.

      We played football once a day all through high school. Reckon we kicked with our left maybe twice.

      1. I am practising bowling and playing badminton left handed. My back is tilted towrads right (like leaning tower of pisa)

        I feel playing left handed might help to arrest the slide

  4. The word for what Mendis is doing is “ambidextrous”, which literally means “both right”. That’s how bad left-handedness is, that even the word for equal handedness ignores it completely.

    I am led to believe that Brian Close could, at one point, play golf off scratch both handedly. Later in his life his handicaps rose, but differently. So whenever he entered a competition, he would have to enter as Brian Close (RH) or Brian Close (LH), so they knew which handicap to apply. Officially, that made him a witch. Burn him!

  5. When I first moved back to the UK I fenced against the president of my new club. He had lovely technique and great speed and footwork. I narrowly beat him and felt very good about myself. It was then pointed out to me that he was actually left handed and he was only fencing right handed because of an injury, pricking my ego.

    A similar thing happened to Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, which is a good movie not least for having not only Columbo but also André the Giant in it.

    1. Played golf last summer in a fourball. I played OK, but one of the regulars from the club (I was a guest) beat me by ten shots gross.

      I wonder how many he’d have won by if he’d had two arms.

      1. In this specific instance it would presumably have served as an impediment, putting off his carefully honed game.

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