Players are crazy about their equipment but Suresh Raina has taken the passion to another level. The left-handed batsman's love for bats is such that he could well be termed the 'Batman' of Indian cricket. His Chennai Super Kings teammates say he must have the most number in world cricket.
"I love to have a lot of bats and have around 350 bats at home," Raina told HT.
It will be interesting to check how he manages with the airlines with such a heavy baggage because, he admits, his kit contains more than a dozen bats most of the time. "Here also, I have brought 10 extra. I know teammates would ask for them, so I keep that stock separate."
He is not just for numbers, he is a connoisseur of the willow. His collection is the most popular in the CSK camp and he takes pleasure in distributing them. "Most of our foreign players love my bats. Last season, from Scott Styris to Faf de Plessis all had taken bats from me."
Raina needs a large collection for himself because he says he loves to play with new bats in every match. "I just pick any of my bat and go out. Fortunately, like most others, I am not superstitious about one particular bat. Just the shape and weight should be to my liking."
What's his preference? "The weight is between 1180 gms to 1200 gms. I like to have more curve in the middle than normal bats and like it heavy at the bottom. I get to bat mostly in the 25-40 overs, when I need to work the ball around. For that you need to have more control. So, I prefer a light bat in these overs. When it comes from 45 to 50, I take one 20gm heavier."
With such a huge collection, doesn't he have to deal with space issues at home? "I have a big house and have a separate area on the top floor for my bats."
He treasures the bats with which he played important knocks and they are safely put in the collection at his home.
"I have kept the bat with which I made my debut, the one with which I made my first Test hundred, then the one with which I played in the World Cup final, the one with which I played against Australia in the quarterfinal (at Ahmedabad), the Multan ODI in 2006 against Pakistan which was his first notable innings (a cameo of 35*).
Modern-day batsmen usually prefer to have many grips on the handle. Kambli at one time is known to have batted with seven grips. In this also Raina is from the old school, "I like to have a long, lean handle with a single grip."
Talking about the other collectors of bat, Raina reveals, "The best bats are of Viru paaji (Virender Sehwag). He bats with a short handle as it is more convenient to play cut shots and flicks. Yuvi (Yuvraj) also has some great bats. The heaviest are of Sachin paaji (Tendulkar). They are the best but others find it difficult to play with them."