The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has rejected the idea of bats made from bamboo being used in professional cricket for now but said that it will discuss the topic at the next Laws sub-committee meeting.
The MCC, who are the guardians of the laws of cricket, said that alternatives to the use of English willow for bats should be considered to make the game more sustainable but use of bamboo for making bats would require an alteration in the current laws of cricket.
"Currently, Law 5.3.2 states that the blade of the bat must consist solely of wood, so for bamboo (which is a grass) to be considered as a realistic alternative to willow would require a Law change," said the MCC in a statement on Monday.
"Importantly, the Law would need to be altered to allow bamboo specifically, as even if it were to be recognised as a wood, this would still be illegal under the current Law, which bans lamination of the blade, except in junior bats," it said.
It further said that the fact that using bamboo bats is an ethical and cheaper alternative provides a pertinent angle.
"Sustainability is a relevant topic for MCC and indeed cricket, and this angle of willow alternatives should also be considered. With the researchers stating that the most suitable types of bamboo grow abundantly across China and that low-cost production could make bamboo bats a viable and ethical alternative to willow, this could provide a pertinent angle for further research and the possibility of reducing the cost of producing bats in different areas of the world. The Club will discuss the topic at the next Laws sub-committee meeting," it said.
British scientists Darshil Shah and Ben Tinkler-Davies of Cambridge University noted in their research that cricket bats made of bamboo are a viable option given that they don't compromise on the 'sweet spot' of traditional willow.
“This sweet-spot was about 20 mm wide and 40 mm long, significantly larger than on a typical willow bat, and better still, was positioned closer to the toe (12.5 cm from the toe at its sweetest point),” the researchers said in a statement.
They have also found that the bamboo bat is 22% stiffer than the willow variant, which increases the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. “This is a batsman’s dream,” Shah was quoted as saying in The Times. “The sweet spot on a bamboo bat makes it much easier to hit a four off a yorker for starters, but it’s exciting for all kinds of strokes,” he asserted.
Ben Tinkler-Davies said: “Whether you’re playing or spectating, you wouldn’t notice much of a difference.” Going forward, lighter bamboo blades could potentially be in the offing in the years to come, which would only facilitate more sparkling stroke-play.
The duo also claim that there’s a paucity of willow since these trees typically take around 15 years to mature. In contrast, bamboo, which is grass, takes only seven years to reach maturity, and is found in abundance in China and parts of South-East Asia. “Bamboo is prevalent in countries that are taking up cricket such as China, Japan, South America as well,” Shah told The Guardian.
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