|Should Bat Sizes Now Be Regulated In All Forms Of Cricket?
by Bhavesh Bhimani
Big bats. Bigger sixes. Small grounds. Smaller boundary ropes. That seems to be the ideal norm for cricket entertainment these days. As the game has evolved, it keeps getting hopelessly one-sided towards the batsmen, and the bowlers have to bear the brunt regularly.
The primary bone of contention for bowlers these days is the bats, or their size. Bats keep getting thicker and broader which is assumed to give batsmen, even the mediocre ones, an unfair advantage.
So has the time come to draw the line somewhere? Many in the world think so. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) world cricket committee has recently said that batting has become “too easy” with bats up to 80mm thick with 55mm edges. They recommend that thickness of bats should be trimmed down by 20mm. There are others who are joining this chorus. Former Australian captains Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell too agree that the thick bats are giving unfair advantage to the batsmen and need to be reduced across all formats of cricket.
The Pre-Eminent Danger Of Thick Bats
Today, the amount of runs that we see being plundered is just unprecedented. Batsmen score 100s in a 20-over game with relative ease and double centuries in ODIs too are not very rare these days. Even tail-enders ‘scoop’ or smash the fastest bowlers out of the park with utter disdain. And small edges and mishits go way over the boundary for big sixes.
A lot of this is being attributed to the thick bats that batsmen use. The bigger bat sizes are also being seen as setting the some other dangerous precedents. The ball is now coming off the bats in such speeds that even umpires have to use protective gear to shield themselves from being hit. Field placements are being more conservative these days in the hope of curbing the flow of runs.
The game, especially the shorter forms, is hence becoming increasingly monotonous by the day. All of this has resulted in an increasing chorus for some balance to be made. But administrators around the world believe that the more the sixes the better for the crowd. So how do we tackle the issue then?
Before we begin to lambast batsmen for using these thick bats let’s just try and look at the matter from the other side. Firstly, let us comprehend if all this is being done within the legal framework of the game. The answer is yes. The bats that we see today are well within the restrictions laid down by the laws of cricket; both in terms of width and length. However, it is the depth and the edge which has gone through major changes in the recent years. This may give the batsmen an advantage but it is within the laws. More than the laws, though, it is the unfair advantage that these big bats provide that many feel is the main issue. But is that the truth? Chris King, bat-maker at Gray-Nicolls feels otherwise.
Several other reputed bat-makers are of the view that all of these notions over big bats are mere myths. They say that sixes today travel no further than they did in the days of Barry Richards and Clive Lloyd. It is just that the reduced boundary sizes and smaller grounds make them look enormous. Many also believe that it is the sheer skills that modern day batsmen have perfected which helps them play these big shots. There has been a massive mindset and technical shift among the batsmen ever since the dawn of the T20s which has led them to evolve their game at a breakneck and unimaginable speed.
Ex-Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif, who was known to be a gritty batsman, offers an interesting view on the subject. “It is not just about using a heavy bat, you have to swing, use power, and play 360-degree shots. I feel it has got to with the modern-day batsman’s ability to think from a bowler’s perspective. Batsmen have gone way ahead in terms of approaching the game, worked harder on their skills or innovations to hit all over the park,” said Kaif to Wisden India recently.
A Semblance of Balance is The Need of The Hour
One has to agree to the fact that modern day batsmen have indeed revolutionized batting like never before. Moreover, most bowlers today seem to have gone on the defensive rather than searching for wickets. Perhaps they too need to be bold and innovate along with the times. There is no denying, though, that bowlers have it rough these days. Having more wood in the bottom of the bats, whether it fits within the laws of the game or not, does help batsmen a great deal. The endless barrage of fours and sixes doesn’t necessarily translate into great cricket. It can, in fact, get quite exhausting after a while. It is imperative, hence, that the panjandrums of the game somehow find a way to get a semblance of balance restored in it. If not for the bowlers, at least for the long-term survival of the sport.
Courtsey the quint,com
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