Delhi v Chennai, IPL 2010, Delhi March 19, 2010

Hayden unveils Mongoose in style

Watching Hayden bludgeon both pace and spin around the park, you cannot help but wonder - will the Mongoose make its way onto the international scene?
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File under "Sights I Never Expected to See": Matthew Hayden, post international retirement, clobbering bowlers all around an international stadium with what looked like a baby's brass rattle in those paws of his. Here's introducing Matt the Bat, now with a longer handle, aka the Mongoose bat.

For the uninitiated, the Mongoose is a something of a miniature version of a normal cricket bat, but it has two distinguishing features: the handle is as long as the blade and the splice, which normal bats have in the blade, is built into that handle to guarantee a clean hitting surface on the bat. Its USP - if you've been following events in the build-up to the IPL - is that it essentially allows a batsman to hit harder and further without changing the way he plays. On the basis of what Hayden achieved at the Feroz Shah Kotla today, the Mongoose suits Twenty20 to the T.

Its short, stocky frame - the base is reportedly five centimeters - allows for sweet timing and that was as evident as crystal. The first sign that Hayden, after two poor games, was roaring back in to form came in the second over when he slammed three boundaries in four balls.

The Mongoose made its debut in the second ball of the fourth over, after Hayden had already muscled some good shots with his normal blade. He's has always wielded the bat like a club, but here was Hayden with a big handle and small blade. To the naked eye, the Mongoose looked silly in his bear hands. In fact, at first it just didn't look right. Surely he would mishit one, inside-edge one onto his stumps, fail to reach out to a spinner, or be caught short of his crease while putting in a dive? None happened.

The first shot Hayden played with the Mongoose was a letdown. He went for an ugly heave and got a streaky single to the leg side. You can't time a cricket ball at pace with that toothpick, was the common assumption. Then Rajat Bhatia came in to the attack for some military medium stuff, only to feel the full effect of what Hayden and his buddy could do. Bhatia to Hayden was never going to be a key contest, but this was too one-sided. Hayden swept four to fine leg, slammed a straight six, tickled another off the pads for four, and slogged four to long-on. Bhatia was nonplussed.

Right, so this thing can do a bit, you started to think. But what about against spin, when the pace is taken off and the pitch plays a bit slow and low? The answer came all too soon, as Tillakaratne Dilshan was called on for some offspin in the eighth over. Hayden was back at his furious best: Dilshan tossed it up and the punishment was immediate - three sixes stung Delhi and sent the crowd into raptures. The second was a mishit but still soared into the stands. You marveled at the distance the ball travelled after it struck the blade of the bat.

The Mongoose didn't restrict Hayden in any way, as you might have expected it to. What it lacks in reach, it more than makes up for with effect. Length balls were swatted over the infield nonchalantly; those that hit the edges ran away to fine leg or third man; two balls that came off the toe end sped past extra cover; those that hit the sweet spot just disappeared. A low full toss from Dirk Nannes - and it's for this specific delivery and the yorker that the Mongoose could prove to be most crucial - was sent speeding past short fine leg.

The Mongoose didn't require Hayden to change his grip or style, but it did allow him to smack the ball harder and further. It was the perfect remedy for Hayden to strike form and Chennai to canter home. On the evidence of what we saw this evening, its power really is phenomenal.

Watching Hayden in full flow is one of the more delightful viewing experiences today, his brute force and style elevating him above many currently active hard-hitting batsmen in international cricket. But watching him with that little thing in his hands was something else. Cricket has traditionally been averse to change and innovation, but watching Hayden bludgeon both pace and spin around the park, you cannot help but wonder - will the Mongoose make its way onto the international scene?

In 1983, Tony Montana blasted through a door firing his automatic machine gun and screaming six words that went on to become part of cinema lore - "Say hello to my little friend!" Twenty-seven years later, a man who has already etched his name cricket's history with a pivotal role in how openers approached the game unveiled a small piece of willow that threatens to further revolutionize batting. Talk about creative mojo.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on March 23, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    A guy like Hayden can simply use this coz he takes the ball correctly to the sweet spot of the bat.Good combination although. I like to see how Sachin,Gayle,Sang,Kallis is handling this.

  • dummy4fb on March 21, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Haydos n mongoose wat a combination !!! Still lots 2 come from Hayden surely this combo goin 2 rock in this IPL. It was awesome 2 watch the match against DD hopefully he will continue with Kings XI Punjab. Hayden Rock On !!!

  • dummy4fb on March 20, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Hear Hear !! the MONGOOSE is here - The Mongoose - the cute little bat with deceiving looks when armoured upon warriors like our own Chennai Super Kings' hero Mathew Hayden, works wonders.Well, the ball manufacturers must be already be thinking of a "snake ball" to counter the mongoose onslaught - probably a ball that increases in size as it approaches wicket keeper's gloves or when a catcher is about to grab it or a variable speed ball named "Cheetah" that changes speed as it approaches the bat, or a self-cleaning aka self-shining alias self-spitting ball which would lubricate itself when rubbed hard (no lozenges-rich saliva issues for the likes of Dravid) or a "Chameleon" ball that changes colour suiting background confusing the batsmen or a "piranha" ball that bites in to the willow and castles the timber even through Sachin's solid defence gate or a "wood-diamagnetic" ball that repulses away from the bat and there you go, all dot balls!.

  • dummy4fb on March 20, 2010, 10:49 GMT

    i own a mongoose bat, having used it in australia to be honest im not too impressed by it

    using it in anything other than t20 is problematic, especially when being targeted with the short ball

    i know hayden's bat has been designed with his input which allows for better performance, but using the regular MMi3 ive found that hitting isnt as easy as hayden makes it seem, the pivot of the bat handle is different which feels awkward when driving, although sweeping and padding the ball can be fun

    overall maybe a better player than myself might make better use of it, but my friends and I dont rate it for the average player, especially when not playing T20

  • drinks.break on March 20, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    "What it lacks in reach, it more than makes up for with effect."

    Doesn't Jamie Alter understand that the Mongoose has exactly the same reach as a normal bat? It's just that the ratio of handle-length to blade-length is basically reversed (it's a long handle on a short blade rather than a short handle on a long blade). This makes it look smaller, because we don't normally take into account the handle when we visually assess a bat's size. But the reality is that it isn't any smaller - its shortness is just an illusion. All the mongoose is is a revolutionary design that provides greater leverage behind a larger sweet spot. Sounds (and looks) like a winner to me.

  • chakkravarthi on March 20, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    I have read all the comments and it only goes to prove how stupid and judgmental we can be when comes to something that we have limited knowledge about. We never agree we lack knowledge about something and tend to jump in to conclusions.

  • dummy4fb on March 20, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    MATHEW with MANGOOSE Make it for the CSK...!!

  • Devrajmallik on March 20, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    Even raina used it for an over in the middle. Did anyone recognised?

  • sumithocs on March 20, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    Just below the shoulder of a regular bat, on sponsor sticketer, their are some red patches of ball prints.. I wonder how mongoose will capable of defending a ball comes at chest height..cant defend just hit hard na??

  • dummy4fb on March 20, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    one match cannot say mangoose is worth or not .... we have to c the future

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