Cricket has been a game of immense importance all across the globe and especially in India and the subcontinent. The game has been following a set format, rules, and tradition since its birth, with few innovations worth mentioning like the T20 format, inaugural World Test Championship, the IPL & now the Bamboo Bats.
Recently, a new buzz in the cricketing world has caught the attention of all the cricketing governing bodies of the world, stakeholders, and the players too. A group of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a prototype bat made from bamboo. Allegedly, the innovation can tilt the game in favor of batsmen. The bamboo cricket bat promises more difficulty for bowlers. The new bat is stiffer, heavier, and has a bigger sweet spot compared to the traditional willow bats.
Cricket, as a game has always been blamed for doing injustice with the bowlers because of its partial rules and batsmen, favored pitches. The spectator’s love for huge sixes and cracking boundaries have made the game a mere batsman’s show. This all leads us to a question: Is the game of cricket ready for another batsmen’s favored innovation.
How Is A Bamboo Cricket Bat Made?
According to the researchers, Ben Tinkler-Davies & Darshil Shah, the bamboo cricket bat is made from the strips of bamboo shoots, which are layered together with a resin adhesive. The researchers published their study in the Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology.
Study on Bamboo Cricket Bat
In the study by Ben Tinkler-Davies & Darshil Shah, the researchers performed a microscopic analysis of the bamboo cricket bat. They also used computer modeling & video capturing technology which helped them to measure how the knocking-in improved the surface hardness. Compression testing and the testing for vibrations helped the researchers know more about the bamboo cricket bat’s performance.
How Is Bamboo Cricket Bat Better Than Willow Bats?
The study showed that bamboo bats are much stronger than traditional willow bats. These bats have three times greater power generating capacity than the willow bats. Bamboo bats are much thinner while remaining as strong as willow. These bats possess the capacity to sustain much higher loads. This would favor the batsmen as the thinner blades can be swung more smoothly to transfer more energy on the ball. The researchers also found that bamboo bats are 22 % stiffer than willow bats. This increases the speed at which the ball leaves the bat.
What Is The Difference Between Willow Bats & Bamboo Bats?
The bamboo cricket bat is 40 % heavier and 22 % stiffer than willow bats. This results in more power generating forces & thus the faster movement of the ball after the impact. Bamboo bats have larger sweet spots as compared to willow bats. The sweet spot on bamboo bats is 20 mm wide and 40 mm long, significantly larger than on a typical willow bat. Also, it is positioned closer to the toe which makes the shot more powerful. With these bats & wider sweet spots, fuller deliveries, even the yorkers, will become easy to play for the batsmen.
“This is a dream bat for all the batsmen,” Shah told The Times. “The sweet spot on a bamboo bat makes it much easier to hit a four off a yorker.”
What is A Sweet Spot on Cricket Bats?
The sweet spot on a cricket bat is the point from where the ball receives maximum acceleration. Sweet spot impacts are followed by a minimal jerk on the hands and forearms. Studies show that sweet spot hits have the lowest levels of vibration in the wrist.
What Are The Advantages of A Bamboo Bat?
One of the greatest advantages of having a bamboo bat is the consistency of the material. It is consistent throughout the length and breadth of the bat. Also, there is very little wastage of material during its manufacturing. The trees grown for willow bats have some natural defects in them (Says researchers of Bamboo bats). Several manufacturers say, up to 20 % of the wood is turned into cheap firewood while manufacturing willow bats, due to water seepage and other problems with the wood.
However, during the manufacturing process of bamboo bats, there is a very minimal amount of wood wastage. It’s great for sustainability and cheap to use.
The other fact to be considered is that the majority of willow is grown in the UK whereas bat manufacturing is done in India. So the willow has to be shipped to India, manufactured, and then again shipped all the way back to England. It increases the cost of production several folds.
Bamboo is easily available in India & the sub-continent. This cuts the cost of production by 50 %. Bamboo bats will be much more eco-friendly as a material and also in the manufacturing process.
Also, according to cricketing experts, the easy and cheap availability of bats could help cricket grow as an international sport in other parts of the world too. Bamboo bats will make the game more environmentally friendly.
Characteristics of Bamboo Bats
- Bamboo bats have higher stiffness. It makes the player hit the ball with the maximum energy for the furthest distance.
- These bats are thinner yet are as strong as willow bats.
- They might have the same weight as the bamboo bat, but the material requirement in the bamboo bat is a lot lesser.
Disadvantages of Bamboo Bats
One of the main disadvantages of bamboo bats is their weight. These bats are very heavy” Tinkler-Davies said.
We made a prototype bat and it was 40 percent heavier than a willow. But that was based on a 2016, classically-shaped bat.
The next stage of our project is to take the better material properties and make a thinner bat which, although would be the same weight as a willow, hopefully, should have better properties.
Availability And Production of Bamboo Bats?
Bamboo is fast-growing giant grass. It grows and matures in a very short span of time (seven years to mature). Whereas, the willow needs a minimum of 15 years before it can be cut and used for production. This factor can enhance the rate of bat production to double as of today.
Cricket Law for Bats
The MCC – Marylebone Cricket Club is the guardian of Cricket’s laws. According to MCC’s Cricket law, bats need to be made solely from wood. Therefore, the bats manufactured from bamboo would require regulations to be amended to get international acceptance.
“MCC’s role includes maintaining the balance between bat and ball, and any potential amendments to this law would need to carefully consider this, particularly the concept of the bat producing greater power. The Club has worked hard to ensure that bats aren’t too powerful, taking steps in 2008 and 2017 to limit the materials and the size of the bats for this purpose,” the MCC stated.
Currently, law 5.3.2 states that the bat’s blade must consist solely of wood, so for bamboo (which is a grass) to be considered a realistic alternative to willow would require an amendment of the law.
The law would need to be altered to allow bamboo specifically, as even if it were to be recognized as wood, this would still be illegal under the current law, which bans lamination of the blade, except in junior bats.
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