`Mongoose' bat could revolutionise cricket

The mongoose is not the first innovation with a cricket bat, although it may turn out to be the most radical one. David Warner has used a double-sided bat (helpful in reverse-sweeping or switch-hitting) and Ricky Ponting kicked up a row by using a graphite-plated bat packing more punch, which was outlawed by the ICC. But if you thought using graphite-backed bats was unfair, think of how English captain Mike Brearley must have felt when Dennis Lillee walked out into the middle holding an aluminium bat at the WACA in Perth in 1979.http://i636.photobucket.com/albums/uu86/wellpitched/Mongoose-Range-768428.jpg

The cricket bat as we know it today only came into existence in the 1770s, when rectangular bats were used for the first time as bowlers were now being allowed to loop the ball up in the air, despite having to bowl it underarm. Before that bats were more like hockey sticks, used horizontally. The bats themselves were made from the heartwood of the English Willow and thus were heavy, as the timber is very dense. It was only in the 1890s that the sapwood of the English Willow came into favour as they made for lighter bats. Batting techniques also reflected these slim, light bats with very thin edges and relatively straight profiles, as batsmen relied more on touch instead of power, and cricketing shots like leg glances and glides gained currency.

Then again, gradually over the years, batsmen started using heavier bats, like the Australian Bill Ponsford in the late 1920s, whose famed “Big Bertha” weighed an ungodly 2 pounds 9 ounces. Later, in the 1960s, players like Graeme Pollock and Clive Lloyd were also adept with heavy bats.

Bat-making technology also improved, with the makers being able to pack in a lot of timber in bats to increase their ‘sweet spots’ and power, and yet keeping the weight manageable.When batting wasn’t as easy Anshuman Gaekwad, who played Test cricket in the 1970s and 1980s and later became a national coach, eyes the modern bats with envy. “All I remember of my father’s bat (DK Gaekwad played for India in 11 test matches in the 1950s) is how light it used to be. But when I see the kind of bats my son Shatrunjay Gaekwad (First Class cricketer) uses, the comparison is almost shocking. When the ball hit the bat in my playing days, we would feel vibrations. These days, the connection is effortless. My bat used to get a curve only after playing for a season. The curve now comes straight from the manufacturers. Even defensive nudges now go for fours.”

As for the mongoose, Gaekwad is not fully convinced. “I don’t know if batsmen can get accustomed to the changed size and bat speed,” he said.

For Ajit Wadekar, the coming of the mongoose bat only highlights the rapid change that the game is currently undergoing with the advent of T20. “It’s all about entertainment. So a bat like this, only meant for hitting, will find its place.”

Gaekwad was more direct. He felt such equipment for power-hitting will allow less talented batsmen to look as good as the masters. But Marcus Codrington Fernandez, director, Mongoose Cricket and inventor of the bat, was quick to counter that: “With this bat, talented batsman with less brute force will be able to hit sixes more often, not just the physically strong batsmen.”

Doubts will persist, however, until the bat’s uses are proven, or until batsmen learn to exploit it effectively. Ashraful himself doesn’t see anyone opening their innings with the mongoose against fast bowlers. “Imagine facing Steve Harmison or Ishant Sharma with this bat when you are looking to settle in.”

Gaekwad also points to the difficulty in connecting with the ball consistently. “With greater bat speed, players might be inclined to be early into the shot.”

Yusuf Pathan, somebody who you might have thought would grab the Mongoose so that he never again gets caught out on the boundary, is also a sceptic. “Kitna bhi accha bat lekar aao, it will be of no consequence if the bat doesn’t hit the ball. So it’s better to concentrate on the basics,” he told the media. But that was before Hayden’s knock.

Fernandez is not worried about people who think the bat he created may be gimmicky. “Just imagine a set batsman in a T20 situation where he is only looking for big runs. Just imagine the batsman to be Hayden. And then give him the mongoose,” he smiles.

reference http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report_the-secrets-of-the-mongoose-bat_1361467-2