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Big Bash League: Why Andre Russell’s black bat has been shown the red card

Andre Russell, who used a black bat in the opening game of the 2016 Big Bash League between Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers, has been denied permission to use the bat by Cricket Australia.

cricket Updated: Dec 21, 2016 22:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Big Bash League,Andre Russell,Sydney Thunder
Andre Russell used a black bat in the opening game of the 2016 Big Bash League between Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers.(Hindustan Times)

Cricket Australia has withdrawn support for the black bat used by West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell in the Big Bash T20 League for Sydney Thunder, stating the bat left marks on the white ball.

Anthony Everard, the head of the Big Bash League, said: “The match officials provided feedback to Cricket Australia that the bat used left black marks on the match ball. As a result, we have decided to withdraw our approval for Andre to use the bat that was used last night as the colour solution used by the manufacturer was discolouring the ball.”

Former Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin, who was keeping wickets for the Sydney Sixers, alleged that the ball had four black marks after Russell came in to bat.

Russell, however, lasted all but seven balls as Sydney Thunder, the defending Big Bash League champions, lost to Sydney Sixers by nine wickets. It is not the first time that Russell has sported a coloured bat. He previously used a pink bat in the Caribbean Premier League where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs

For Russell’s bat manufacturers Spartan, however, there’s still a window of opportunity. “Should Andre, or any other BBL or WBBL player for that matter, wish to use a bat with a different colouring solution to the one used last night that doesn’t result in the discolouration of the match ball, they will be permitted to do so subject to Cricket Australia being satisfied that the bat won’t compromise the integrity of the game, which we believe discolouring the match ball does,” Everard added.

Colour experimentation not new to the Big Bash League

Experimenting with the colour of bats, however, isn’t something that the league isn’t familiar with. Spartan had manufactured a golden bat for Chris Gayle during the game between Melbourne Renegades and Brisbane Heat in the 2015 Big Bash League.

Earlier in 2016, Ashar Zaidi had used a similar black bat for Essex in the English County game against Middlesex, which was later found to have broken rules. Aiden Blizzard had also used a bright green ‘Milo’ bat during the clash between Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers in the 2015/16 season.

Under the BBL & WBBL Clothing and Equipment Regulations a player can use a coloured bat subject to Cricket Australia approval. The bat must be the same colour as the Club’s primary colour, or black. Cricket Australia retains the right to withdraw approval in its absolute discretion. The umpires can also request a player change the bat if they believe it affects the integrity of the match.

Andre Russell has performed consistently for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. (Hindustan Times)

Russell continues to court controversy

Russell has already had a controversial year as he failed to record his whereabouts to drug authorities on three separate occasions and is waiting for a verdict from the Jamaica anti-doping commission. Russell, who has been retained by the Kolkata Knight Riders for the upcoming season, had emerged as one of the most prolific players in the 2015 Big Bash League, when he struck at 186.86 and took 16 wickets in 10 games to emerge as the joint-second highest wicket-taker.

This is not the first time that the nature of the bat has come under the scanner in a cricket game.

Australian great Dennis Lillee had once sported an aluminium bat during the Test against England at the WACA in Perth in 1979. After facing four balls, Australian captain Greg Chapell brought out a wooden bat as he believed the metal bat was not aiding strokeplay. Mike Brearly, the English captain had alleged that the metal bat had been damaging the ball and requested the umpires to change it.

First Published: Dec 21, 2016 13:35 IST