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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cricket bats of various makes - this one at Devon is different


For the not so well informed, bats are made of willow wood, shaped in a regular way consisting of a long handle wedged into the wood. The flat side is used to hit the ball, the point of widening into the blade is known as shoulder and bottom as toe. The wood is tough and shock resistant and has a spring design at handle.

Modern bats are usually machine made, the shape of bats have remained in the present form for too long.  Those days Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, SandipPatil used heavier bats  – now there are many who wield the willow like a bludgeon – resultantly, even a shot not hit in the sweet spot disappears into the crowd, making the life of spinners miserable. There was this very interesting story. In 1983 WC, at Royal Turnbridge Wells, KapilDev scored a magnificent 175 n.o against Zimbabwe lifting the Indians from 17/5. He reportedly played with a Slazenger V12 bat. That bat was handed to KrishSrikkanth who inturn gave it to his Ranji mate – CS Suresh Kumar. Suresh lived in TP Koil Street, Triplicane and we made a beeline to his house, seeing the bat and touching it with awe inspiration and regard. In between Dennis Lillee used an aluminum metal bat in 1979 but could not go on as English team complained of the ball getting damaged. In one match, Ricky Ponting used a bat with carbon composite meat.

Away in UK, a Village cricket club is in news carving out storm-damaged tree that has stood on its boundary for 125 years into a giant 16ft bat.  MailOnline reports on this pine tree, which has stood on the boundary of a cricket club for 125 years, being  carved into a huge bat after it was damaged in a storm.The tree was planted on the eastern edge of the Shobrooke Park Cricket Club in Crediton, Devon in 1890, but it was hit by severe gales two years ago.

The storms tore the upper boughs off and left just a 30ft trunk and was set to be chopped down. Cricketers Steve Jones and Bruce Kerry decided the iconic pine shouldn't go to waste and came up with a plan to save it.  It took Mr Kerry, a tree surgeon and Mr Jones, who is skilled in woodwork, 18 months to carve the 16ft cricket bat out of the Scots pine.They spent every spare weekend using chainsaws and electric planers to carve the trunk to the exact proportions of a standard bat.

Though  a traditional cricket bat is made from willow wood rather than pine, that isn't putting off visitors from admiring.A business in the area has also offered the prize of a fine bottle of Scotch whisky to the first batsman who hits the bat with a six.Mr Jones said: 'It seemed a shame to turn such an iconic tree into firewood so we came up with the idea to carve it into a cricket bat.The base and the bat have been coated in a wood preservative and the handle was wrapped with polypropylene rope. Amazingly it required 360ft of rope to wrap the handle. The top has a lead capping to keep the rain off.

The tree is still attached to the roots, when that eventually rots it is assumed,  it will fall over. The plan is to cut it free before it falls, then move the bat around the grounds and lean it up against other trees.  It has become popular, with visitors to the ground wanting to have photographs taken in front of it. 

This is a specialized T20 bat designed to provide more power and more bat speed. Before the start of IPL, the big burly Mathew Hayden revealed this at Chennai during the match practice and it looked like a tooth pick. A bat with shorter blade and longer handle !!!. – the mongoose bat has its blade 33% shorter than the conventional one and the handle 43% longer. It meets the basic requirement and has ICC clearance. Typically, bats weigh 1.1-1.4kg though Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards, Sachin Tendulkar have all used heavy bats but with standard dimensions.
Hayden may not be the first as few players like AzharMahmood, Stuart Law and Lou Vincent have used such innovations in domestic leagues. Now it is stated that the sweet spot is twice the size of the conventional bat, which will make flashes race to boundary and perhaps some records could get rewritten due to that. Sachin recently displayed that he does not need all these and kept rewriting history during that epic double ton. Perhaps he could hit runs with a stump itself and would not require a special bat.

Interesting ! – in IPL Matthew Hayden introduced ‘mongoose’ bat, the brainchild of inventor Marcus Codrington Fernandez, a former creative director at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. Besides, Hayden of CSK, Andrew Symond of Deccan Chargers and West Indian Dwayne Smith also of DC tried using it – but with limited success.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Aug 2015.

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