Are Big Bats So Bad?
The increase in the depth (or thickness if you prefer) of modern cricket bats has come under discussion on several occasions in recent years, with the International Cricket Council now urging the MCC to restrict the size of bats in order to create a more even contest between bat and ball again.
But are changes really necessary?
Perhaps they are, in a sense.
Whilst I personally don’t feel the contest is uneven due to changes in the size of modern bats, at some point the games custodians may wish to put some limitation in place to ensure the balance we have currently is maintained – because it’s working.
It is not Kookaburra’s fault if a game is staged on a flat pitch any more than it is Gray Nicholls’ fault if the bowler servers up a juicy long hop. The respective manufacturers have simply given modern cricketers – who are collectively fitter and stronger than every before – the means by which to dispatch poor balls further.
The ‘twist’ here is that this change may actually be positive for the game.
The crash, bang, wallop of Twenty20 cricket has acted as a gateway for many new fans to enter the sport, whilst making more aggressive totals and run chases possible in longer formats. It also promotes better bowling as poor efforts are more brutally punished.
And bigger bats are a part of this change.
Nottinghamshire scored 445 in a recent One Day Cup game against Northamptonshire, only for their opponents to fall but a whisker short, eventually bowled out for 425. 48 hours later, Notts posted 415 in a 36 run win over Warwickshire.
Last Tuesday, Liam Plunkett smashed a straight six off the final ball of England’s innings in the first One Day International against Sri Lanka, securing a tie and bringing to a close a game which saw over 500 runs and 17 wickets.
Whilst Plunkett is a far cry from the England number tens of old in terms of ability, none of these examples would have been possible were it not for the changes we’ve seen in the game in recent years – including ‘bat technology’.
Players such as Chris Gayle have become household names, allowing clubs to market their star players in a way they perhaps never could before. While there will always be a place for a graceful hundred, it’s hard to deny the adrenaline rush Gayle can bring when he is on song.
Likewise teams willingness to try and chase down 300+ in the fourth innings of a County Championship game makes the English domestic game that bit more enthralling, rather than the dour ‘bat for a draw’ occasions we sometimes saw in years past.
Ultimately, whether a purist or a newbie, spectators want to see runs on the board and wickets falling regardless of the format.
And for the most part we are still seeing wickets tumble, but with the added bonus of an increasing number of boundary clearing blows from batsmen.
Is it really such a terrible change to give people what they want?