In the modern world, the shorter formats of cricket have become known as “a batsman’s game”, and it’s easy to see why. In recent series, we’ve seen scores of 400 in one day international cricket, and around 200 has become par for a T20 fixture. So, why have we seen such a rise in the number of runs scored in these fixtures? Well, one example of why is the bats used by the batsmen. In this post, we take a look at how they’ve changed and how they’re helping batsmen hit the ball further than ever before.
Bigger Bats and Bigger Players = More Sixes
The modern bats certainly look like mighty pieces of wood. At the international level especially, players now spend an increased amount of time in the gym, doing exercises to help aid explosive, powerful hitting.
Being more powerful and muscular means that they can wield a heavier and larger bat at the crease, and bat makers have responded to this. The edges of the modern cricket bat have now grown to 70mm, which means that even a top edge can fly for 6.
The average weight of today’s bats stands at around 2lb 9oz, but the technology behind them means that although they only weigh 41 ounces, they have the performance levels of a 48 ounce bat.
The Technology Behind the Willow
A cricket bat may just look like a lump of wood, but there’s actually a lot of science behind it. In particular, various manufacturers now focus intensely on the ‘pressing’ of the bat before it reaches the shelves. The old process of “knocking in” bats (detailed here by Talent Cricket) also still applies, to ensure longevity.
All bats are pressed by manufacturers, but the amount they’re pressed by is an exact science. If you don’t press it enough, the bat may break, but if you press it too much, then it will affect the performance of the bat.
However, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and each bat requires a different amount of pressing, even if you’re making two from the same tree.
The shape of the modern bat has also changed to help lighten it, leading to greater bat speed and more sixes. Now, for example, bats are slightly bowed with a flat face rather than a convex shape of days gone by.
The spine has also been extended and made to be a little more concave, as this allows excess wood to be removed from the back of the bat, which lowers weight without impacting on performance.
The “holy grail” for bat designers is to create a big bat with a light pick up. Whereas the grain used to be the most important thing a prospective batsman would look at in a shop, people are now looking at bat size and pick up instead.
How much more will this change over the next decade or so? Well, nobody truly knows, but the ICC are looking at limiting bat size, so it may be best to buy sooner rather than later.