Hitting monstrous sixes helps cricketers enhance their market value, and they are pressurising manufacturers to make bats with thicker edges that help them smash the ball out of the park.
Bats with thicker edges usually have a larger sweet spot, the six-inch area of the bat’s lower centre that provides maximum returns for a shot.
Proof of how bats with larger sweet spots have disturbed the game’s balance was on display in the Indian Premier League final recently when Ben Cutting smashed Shane Watson out of the Chinnaswamy Stadium for a 117-metre six.
“Before the IPL, batsmen used bats with edges between 32-35mm. Now, everyone wants to hit the ball outside the stadium, so they are using bats with 40-45 mm edges. The demand for these bats is huge,” Rakesh Mahajan, director of bat manufacturer BDM, told HT.
Video: Popularity of T20 cricket pushes up demand for thicker bats
Last week, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) cricket committee received a research paper from the Marylebone Cricket Club with scientific and statistical evidence that bats have become more potent in recent years due to larger sweet spots. The ninth edition of the IPL saw 638 sixes with over 6,400 runs scored off boundaries.
As there is no ICC law restricting the batsman from using bats with fat edges, Chris Gayle and David Warner use ones with edges between 45-50mm, with a 70mm spine behind the sweet spot. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli prefer bats with edges between 40-42mm with a 70mm spine.
“For the last 10 years, players have been requesting or putting pressure that they want more meat at the back of the bat as it helps in stroke-making,” said Paras Anand, director of Sanspareils Greenlands.
The popularity of T20 cricket has pushed up the demand for bats with extra thickness, but it is a challenge for manufacturers as players want lighter bats but with thicker sweet spots.
“Depending on supply, the quality and weight of the willow varies, so it becomes a challenge to cater to needs as expectations of the players are high,” said Anand.
Cricketers select bats according to the format. Dhoni has bats weighing between 1,250-1,300gm for T20 cricket. Kohli prefers an 1,180gm bat while Rohit Sharma used an 1,170gm bat in the IPL.