January 10, 2009

Indian cricket

India's brief tryst with double-sided bats

Siddhartha Talya

The double-sided bat used by New South Wales batsman David Warner in a domestic match against South Australia was not the first experiment with such an innovation. Double-sided bats were trialled in India in 1982 to enable batsmen to play unconventional shots as forcefully as possible. The bat, first made in Meerut, was compressed from both sides, while its handle was built thin to provide balance.

“There was a lot of demand for special bats even later for Sixes tournaments. There was a craze for six-a-side tournaments held in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, and we made the bat specifically for those tournaments,” Rakesh Mahajan, the owner of bat-maker BDM told the Indian Express. “Before going for mass production, we gave away bats to players for practice. In fact, during the Singapore tournament, players like Kapil Dev, Arjuna Ranatunga, Joel Garner, Rumesh Ratnayake used those bats at the nets.”

However, the bats fell out of favour with players. “It wasn’t liked by players because they wanted something more conventional. There was very little scope for experimentation back then.

“These bats have one major drawback — there’s no meat on them. It’s good for players who prefer to time the ball, but this version of cricket [Twenty20] is all about force. In fact, these days players come to us with the demand of increasing the meat on the bat to 15 inches - which is not easy because the imported willow doesn’t have that much width.”

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Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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