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Blades of glory: Revolution beckons

Innovations with the bat are perhaps as old as cricket itself but barring the odd noise, things were just chugging along. Barry Richards playing with a bright orange bat in 1973, Dennis Lillee's had aluminium in 1975, Ricky Ponting's graphite-coated willow or the black bats in the Stanford Series were ripples that didn't really become waves, reports Somshuvra Laha.

cricket Updated: Jul 19, 2009 01:03 IST
Somshuvra Laha

Innovations with the bat are perhaps as old as cricket itself but barring the odd noise, things were just chugging along. Barry Richards playing with a bright orange bat in 1973, Dennis Lillee's had aluminium in 1975, Ricky Ponting's graphite-coated willow or the black bats in the Stanford Series were ripples that didn't really become waves.

And then came the T20 game, which not only gave cricket a whole new range of shots but also an opportunity to sports gear brands to experiment. The result: a product called Mongoose and the double-faced bats.

Cleared by the Marylebone Cricket Club (the game's guardians in such matters) and the brainchild of Marcus Codrington Fernandez, the Mongoose bat's handle is 43 per cent longer and the blade 33 per cent shorter than conventional bats.

Codenamed MMi3, the Mongoose claims to offer batsmen 20 per cent more power and 15 per cent better bat speed, backing this up with evidence provided by the biomechanical engineering department of the Imperial College, London.

A radically reconfigured design, the splice, usually located in the blade of the conventional bat, is incorporated into the handle. The bat's shoulders are dropped by nine inches and the weight taken from the shoulders — about 20 per cent of the blade weight — is redistributed to the back of the new, shorter blade.

“We are planning to launch the bat in India in 2010. We have shown the Mongoose to a number of Indian players and hope to see the bats being used in the IPL next spring,” Fernandez told the Hindustan Times.

Australian Stuart Law has used the Mongoose in county cricket. “Based on the few times I've used it this season (in T20 matches), it's caused quite a stir amongst players and fans. It's even being called a 'weapon of mass destruction',” said Law.

New Zealand's Lou Vincent, Lancashire's foreign import, too said he liked it. “I hit a 140 with it recently. The Mongoose could have a great impact on the IPL.”

Indian brands aren't lagging behind either. Matrrixx, a double-faced bat promoted by Meerut-based Matrrixx Ventures Incorporated, seems tailormade for scoop shots or reverse sweeps. Slightly heavier than normal, with a larger sweet spot along with uniform edges and a chiselled toe, Matrrixx's makers insist it is different from the double-faced bats devised by Gray-Nicolls, which debuted last January in Australia. Ajit Menon, CEO of Matrrixx, said Reebok wants them to make bats.

Bengal batting mainstay Manoj Tiwary got one recently. “I used it at practice sessions for the Delhi Daredevils and found it gave me a little more time to play the reverse sweep,” he said. Asked if he would use it in future, Tiwary said: “I will start with club matches and then decide.”

The phenomenon of T20 having exploded on us, anything that helps bludgeon bowlers could be the rage.

But these beasts are yet to be tested at the highest level, and that could be a different story.