The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has decided to re-write a key law related to the bat to safeguard the traditional balance of the game in view of the changing face of the sport.
MCC members overwhelmingly voted in favour of re-writing Law 6 (The bat) at a Special General Meeting at Lord's on Wednesday. While a two-thirds majority was needed to pass the Law, and the final result saw 98.6 per cent votes in favour.
The new Law, which will come into effect from October 1, stipulates that 90 per cent of the volume of bat handles should consist of cane, wood and/or twine, with the other 10 per cent for the purpose of reducing vibration.
It states bat handles (including the splice) must not exceed 52 per cent of the overall length of the bat, and restricts the thickness of materials that can be used to protect and repair bats.
MCC's Head of Cricket John Stephenson said the Law is aimed at maintaining the equilibrium between bat and ball.
"In cricket, the battle between bat and ball is key. If one comes to dominate the other, the game will become predictable and less enjoyable to play and watch," he said in a statement issued by the MCC.
"While cricket pitches, balls and boundaries have changed little in centuries, modern bats have developed to the extent that mis-hits are now sometimes clearing the boundary rope for six. By ensuring that bats are made in the traditional manner, MCC hopes to safeguard the traditional balance of the game."
"Modern training methods have allowed many batsmen to become stronger and fitter than their predecessors, thus hitting the ball harder and further. MCC is not trying to legislate against those players, but rather the new materials that could give them an unfair advantage," Stephenson said.
The new law also introduces a grading system for bats - from Grade A to C - which allows for more leeway on the materials used, enabling the equipment to still be produced cheaply for use in lower levels of the game.
In recognition of the importance of the Law, MCC conducted a full consultation: discussions were held with the International Cricket Council and governing bodies of Test playing nations; nine different bat manufacturers from across the world gave their views; technical advice was sought from material scientists; and postal voting forms were sent out to all 18,000 Full and Senior Members.
Additionally MCC investigated future supplies of willow - for the blades - and cane - for the bat handles - to ensure they could meet demand.