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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

boom boom bats !! - David Warner to use heavier bat in India

For more than 120 years of existence in International cricket, the willow 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.

I remember lining up to see at the home of CS Sureshkumar [a good Ranji player] -  Slazenger V12 bat that was believed to have been used by legend Kapil Dev during that epic 175 n.o. in 1983 World Cup.  In olden days, locally, lesser 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.

At Indore, Gujarat is playing Mumbai in Ranji finals – for the latter it is routine, while for Gujarat it is phenomenal entry after 65 years.  It generally is the tale of Mumbai piling huge runs; but, Mumbai's batting woes that have troubled them all season extended into the grand finale too. A mix of poor shots, shocking running and an umpiring howler resulted in Gujarat using the toss advantage in their favour to take the opening day honours in Indore.  Twenty-two-year-old medium-pacer Chintan Gaja, who was drafted in for his third first-class game on the biggest stage in Indian domestic cricket, cracked open the game with the wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav. RP Singh's presence in the ears of the young pacer at mid-off proved why investing in him as a professional was a wise move. He picked up two wickets of his own to sustain pressure as Mumbai were bowled out for 228. Gujarat openers Samit Gohel, reprieved off the first ball by Prithvi Shaw at second slip, and Priyank Panchal were unscathed after a probing over from Shardul Thakur as Gujarat ended the day with the relief that their top two run-scorers of the season would need for the second day.  Will Gujarat beat Mumbai ?

Down under, Australian vice-captain, David Warner, has labelled as "very, very poor" the scheduling decision that will lead to Australia playing a Twenty20 international at home the day before they begin a Test series in India.  The Test players will have a long preparation for the first Test in Pune, spending up to two weeks training on spinning pitches at the ICC Academy in Dubai before heading to India for a warm-up game in Mumbai. However, while the Test players are acclimatising in Asia, a T20 team will be representing Australia in three internationals at home against Sri Lanka.

Warner has been in sublime form – at Sydney against Pakistan he joined a elite band of 4 scoring century before lunch of the first day of Test.   He joined  Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney, Don Bradman and Majid Khan to achieve this feat. Majid khan’s feat  was more than 40 years ago against New Zealand in Karachi in October 1976. The first three were all before World War II.

He is used to making runs – letting his bat talk.  David Warner has started his preparations for the tour of India and the in-form Australian batsman has resorted to using a heavier bat to counter the conditions in the sub-continent. Warner will lower the sweet spot of his bat and have a heavier blade to tackle the lower bounce and sharp turn generated by the Indian spinners led by Ravichandran Ashwin, reported by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. A heavier bat will slow Warner's swing, giving him greater control on the slow decks expected to take sharp turn and favour Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Warner's Gray-Nicolls Kaboom bat typically weighs 1.23 kilograms in Australia but in India he is expected use a blade weighing 1.28 kilograms.

The dynamic opener will be particularly keen for a big series on the sub-continent, for he averaged a modest 24.37 in four Tests on the miserable "homework-gate" tour of 2013. He averages 40.36 in 12 Tests against India, with four centuries - but all has been on home shores. Australia's top-level players are meticulous in their approach to the finer points of their bats and the willow used. Glenn Maxwell is one who prefers to have a lower sweet spot in all conditions, in a bid to have greater control over his strokes. Warner's Kaboom blade that he uses in Australia is likely to require a shave if, as expected, new laws on the size of bats recommended by the Marylebone Cricket Club are introduced from October. These changes shape as being only for Tests and first-class matches, allowing  the bigger blades to  be used in the shorter formats.

Bat manufacturers believe the maximum size of the edges could be reduced to 40 millimetres , with the overall depth 67 millimetres. Such has been the growth in bat sizes in the past decade that the Kaboom has measured almost 85 millimetres at its fattest part. The edges of bats are almost three times the size they were decades ago, sparking concerns the battle between bat and ball was too heavily favoured to the former. The daily also reported that the Australian captain Steve Smith will use the same bat he uses in Australia.

Warner has cornered the market on a job lot of Gray-Nicolls Kaboom bats that are so big and yet so light that they have sparked a call by no less than former ¬Australia captain Ricky Ponting to look at introducing the first restrictions on size and weight of bats in Test cricket. Law 6 in the Marylebone Cricket Clubs Laws of Cricket states only that a bat’s blade be no longer than 965mm or wider than 108mm. It must be of two parts only: handle and blade. The handle can be cane and willow, the blade any form of wood in any thickness or weight. Until recently there were natural restrictions on the arms race that is bat manufacturing. Traditionally the amount of wood needed to make a blunderbuss of the modern size rendered them too heavy to swing at the necessary speed.

In older times, big bertha Clive Lloyd used heavy bats, while Sandip Patil too was using much heavier one than his counterparts - the arms race has continued unabated and the fattest part, sometimes ensures that even mishits go beyond the boundaries !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Jan 2017.

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