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Friday, March 12, 2010


After all the marketing hype, the IPL third season started a few minutes ago. The first game of a tournament is always crucial from various aspects and today the bottom placed KKR played Deccan Chargers. In another gimmick, Koertzen asked everybody around whether they are ready, was heard on the loud speaker and the ripe Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas at 36 ran in to bowl. Clearly not the pace bowler he used to be, perhaps could prove to be easy meat was the thought that went through one’s mind. Anirudh Singh who once played ICL is on the ranks, so also is Jaskaran Singh. Vaas started with an innocuous one and the new opener Manoj Tiwary lobbed it to midwicket – wicket no. 1 of the first ball. My son is anxious as his star Sourav walks in. I am also a bit tensed. Fourth ball Vaas had Ganguly caught in the first slip and am thinking of switching off.  Fifth over Angelo Mathews is facing his first ball, a short delivery, goes for a hook, top edge, ball lands over the rope directly behind the keeper Adam Gilchrist. There could much more in store for the fans just as the change in bat, that is in news recently.

For more than 120 years of existence in International cricket, the bat might undergo a sea change. The bat has not undergone much of change though the grip, the quality of willow, the price all have changed over the years. Present day batsmen display not manufacturers’ names but mostly the sponsors on the bats. There are many and varied manufacturers such as : Symonds, Slazenger, Gunn & Moore, Gray Nichols, Puma, and BDM an Indian bat which itself cost a fortune those days.

There was a very interesting story. In 1983 WC, at Royal Turnbridge Wells, a town in West Kent, about 31 miles south east of Central London bordering East Sussex Kapil scored a magnificent 175 n.o against Zimbabweans lifting the Indians from 17/5. He reportedly played with a Slazenger V12 bat. That bat was handed to Krish Srikkanth 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.

Less fortunate used non oil bats – whilst there were stories of seasoning and oiling the oil bats. At one point time, there were reports that Sunil Gavaskar’s bat had some small pint holes on the back side of the bat which aided him when he drove the ball. The bats of English willow were expertly pressed and there would be procedures of oiling with linseed oil and knocking them over. Knocking was the process of hardening the knitting the fibrous textures of the face of the bat and linseed oil for it would soak in to pores making the willow dent and scratch resistant.

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. The Laws of cricket limit the size of bat to note more than 38 in (965 mm) long and the blade may not be more than 4.25 in (108 mm) wide. Bats typically weigh from 2 lb 8 oz to 3 lb (1.1 to 1.4 kg) though there is no standard. The handle is usually covered with a rubber or cloth sleeve to enhance grip and the face of the bat may have a protective film.

Modern bats are usually machine made, the shape of bats have remained in the present form for too long. Bats were not always this shape though there is some news that the bats were in shape similar to a hockey stick. Earlier days they used to bowl under arms and there were not much of protective equipments. 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. Some manufacturers have created bats with lightweight carbon handles which have not been used in international matches. Gray Nicolls made a trial with double sided bat. All this could become history with another Manufacturer – Mongoose jumping into the fray with its innovation. 

 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 Azhar Mahmood, 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.

Whether the latest evolution quite becomes a revolution and turn off youngsters away from bowling will have to be seen. The Marlybourne cricket club which had rejected many submissions has approved the mongoose bat. Manufacturers claim that mongoose bat is tailor-made for the short format. Subtlety is not its strong suit. With a five-centimeter thick base that boasts a sweet spot twice the size of that on a traditional bat, even the pace bowler’s saving grace - a yorker - can be dispatched to the ropes.  With brute power the bat could become a weapon of mass destruction. The bat is priced at 159 pounds. When T20 made its appearance there was talk that this would sound the death knell for the spinner but spinners have been successful in this format also.
stuart law

The bats have looked for hundreds of years but mongoose the brainchild of inventor Marcus Codrington Fernandez, a former creative director at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather could radically change the way. It is described as Mongoose Cricket Bats MMi3 Short Natural Blade Grade One. India becomes the dumping ground not only for BT cotton, BT brinjal but for this latest innovation as well. 100 bats in two categories are about to be launched in India and would cost Rs.17000/- & Rs.23000/- They have plans to manufacture them in India going by the demand.
In the present edition of IPL, Mathew Hayden of CSK, Andrew Symond of Deccan Chargers and West Indian Dwayne Smith also of DC might be using them.

At Mumbai after being 31/4, Angelo Mathews and Owais Shah lifted KKR to a respectable 161/4

With regards – S Sampathkumar


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