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Thanks to MSD, light bats are back

At some stage during the Indian Premier League 2010, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was hopping from venue to venue without a chance of touching base in Ranchi, he was stopped at an airport.

cricket Updated: May 08, 2010 00:19 IST
Anand Vasu

At some stage during the Indian Premier League 2010, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was hopping from venue to venue without a chance of touching base in Ranchi, he was stopped at an airport.

His bag, bulging even beyond the normally bursting standards of cricketers, attracted attention.

It was much heavier than expected, and airport officials just had to check, despite the bag belonging to the India captain.
When Dhoni sheepishly emptied the contents of his bag, 22 cricket bats tumbled out. It was not that he was particularly superstitious, and carried extra sticks, like Sourav Ganguly, but just that he had not been home to drop off the bats he had acquired in the course of his travels.

Here in the West Indies, Dhoni is carrying 14 bats, each one handcrafted to perfection and weighing exactly the same amount.

When you look at the bat from a few feet away, it appears to be a block of wood, and the standout feature is the thickness. Those muscular heaves that sail out of the ground from time to time, especially in this age of shortened boundaries, are routinely put down to how big and heavy bats have become in this age.

But when you pick up Dhoni's bat you realise that it feels incredibly light, despite being much thicker than most regular bats at certain points. The primary reason the bat feels so light is the perfect balance, given that it's not especially light at 2lbs 10 oz (1300 gm).

Over the years, the weight of bats has increased. While Sir Don Bradman used one that weighed no more than 2lb 2ozs, Aravinda de Silva used one that weighed about 3lbs. Sachin Tendulkar, who has made heavy bats fashionable uses a willow that is more than 3 lbs.

The fact that Dhoni is using a lighter stick and still hitting the ball further than anyone else will come as huge relief for coaches.

Little boys starting off in the game have been demanding heavier and heavier bats, and coaches have been powerless to stop them as they cited the example of their idol.

Perhaps now, coaches can point towards another icon, Dhoni, and bring light bats back in vogue.