Using silicone-based tape on the edges of bats might be one of the ways to get past Hot Spot, but it isn’t the only way International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations are flouted. According to bat makers in India there are several ways a bat’s efficiency can be enhanced. And most don’t follow regulations strictly.
Consider this. Even though ICC regulations require that the width of a cricket bat blade should be no more than 4.25 inches, custom-made bats often flout this rule. Some cricketers opt for composite material like carbon fibre to be injected after drilling holes from the shoulder of the blade. Result? It increases rebounding of balls off the bat.
An old habit
Occasionally, some cricketers ask bat manufactures to splice two pieces of wood so that it gives the bat better stroke power without feeling heavy on the wrists. The fusing lines are covered with tape to evade suspicion.
“Tinkering with bats is an old habit now,” a bat manufacturer from Meerut told HT. “It is particularly rampant in the domestic and club circuit. How do you think some batsmen hit the ball out of the ground? They have more power in their shoulders yes, but their bats are also tinkered beyond what the law permits,” he said.
Of course, competition among cricket goods manufacturers means most of them oblige to the demands and make necessary changes. “Nowadays, cricketers take it for granted that we will make the bats according to their whims,” said the bat manufacturer. Using tape on bats too is an offshoot of that habit. “Using tape on bats wasn’t in vogue till the mid 90s,” said Ajit Menon, CEO of Matrrixx, another cricket goods manufacturer based in Meerut.
“Earlier, cricketers only carried about two or three bats. And since those were expensive English willow bats, they used to take more care of the bat, like oiling them and knocking them into shape during the off-season. Each of those bats lasted up to 2-3 years. I have never seen a more dedicated player than Jimmy Amarnath who used to take meticulous care of his bats,” said Menon.
With time Kashmir willow bats have taken over, as cricketers, according to manufacturers, feel the ball goes off more sweetly than the English willow. The flipside however is the frail nature of Kashmir willow. Still the longevity of bats can be extended with good care.
“But there is so much cricket nowadays that players hardly have time to devote to their bats,” said Menon.