April 16, 2010

A shortage of bats?

Game over for cricket

Game over for cricket? The European Unions’ decision to “outlaw before export” the chemical methyl bromide, because it is believed to damage the ozone layer, means that cricket could soon be facing a major shortage of bats. Each year around 100,000 raw blades made of willow, known as clefts are exported from England to India and Pakistan where they are turned into finished products. The clefts are treated with methyl bromide, which is an insecticide, before they are exported. Here lies the problem: the wood cannot leave England without a fumigation certificate and India and Pakistan do not accept any alternative treatment for the wood apart from methyl bromide.

This spells potential disaster for the 10-million-pounds-a-year industry. “Unless something is done we are going to run out of cricket bats,” Geoff Watling of Anglian Willow Services told the Daily Express. “The worldwide supply of Test standard and Twenty20 bats for the national and county sides could dry up within two years.”

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo