Indian Premier League March 22, 2010

What makes the Mongoose bat effective

Looks can be deceiving and that small-looking thing in the hands of someone as huge as Hayden deceived everyone

"That small-looking thing in the hands of someone as huge as Hayden deceived everyone" © Mongoose

Matthew Hayden allowed his Mongoose bat to run a riot against Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozshah Kotla. Whenever he hit the bat, it stayed hit. But haven’t we already seen Hayden doing exactly the same thing with a regular bat? So what is really the difference between a regular and a Mongoose bat? For starters the blade is remarkably shorter than the regular bat, in fact, 33% shorter to be precise. But it weighs exactly as much as the regular bat. The weight which is taken away from the top is redistributed in the remaining half. It bears a striking resemblance to the bat we use during fielding drills. That bat is a lot lighter than the regular bat which is perhaps one of the reasons for using it. Hitting hundreds of balls during fielding drills takes a toll on the arm and that’s why most people prefer using a smaller bat. Also, since you mostly have to hit a stationary ball, the lack of blade isn’t a concern. A competitive match doesn’t give you such luxuries.

My first look at the Mongoose bat made me believe that the bowlers would easily get through under the bat. Bowling yorkers would prove to be an easy way to get rid of the dangerous man. Perhaps, even the Delhi bowlers thought along similar lines and bowled yorkers. But Hayden had it all planned.

Obviously we didn’t take into account the length of the handle which is remarkably longer to make up for the shorter blade. Looks can be deceiving and that small-looking thing in the hands of someone as huge as Hayden deceived everyone.

Another thing that baffled me was how effective this bat would be on the slow and low subcontinent tracks. Yes, the bat has a bigger sweet spot but what about the balls hitting the bottom of the bat? But my doubts were put to rest when I spoke to the director of the company which produces these bats. According to him the Mongoose bat has three times more wood at the bottom than the conventional bat which allows the batsman to hit even the yorkers and the low full tosses with a lot of power. And it was visible on Friday.

The Mongoose bat not only gives you more control over the willow but also increases your bat speed. The bat speed comes in quite handy when you’re trying to play an aggressive shot.

But the clincher came when the director confirmed the bat is made for playing in Twenty20 cricket and not in the other formats. And the reason for this is the missing top half of the bat makes playing the short-pitched deliveries slightly difficult. It also doesn’t give you any back-up in case of uneven bounce. You either hit the ball or run the risk of getting hit on the body. Obviously then, Hayden is willing to punt in order to hit bigger and better.

Also this bat is not for the people who bank on using the pace of the ball. Hayden’s batting wagon wheel showed that no runs were scored behind point on the off side which suggests that if you have a Mongoose bat in your hands that’s not the area you should be targeting. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to hit the yorkers and low full tosses because not many people are going to provide width in this format.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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