International cricket chiefs outlaw hi-tech bats

London, May 8:

International cricket chiefs have banned hi-tech cricket bats that give an unfair advantage to batsmen, saying the move will help prevent the game becoming too predictable.

Rule changes will ensure bat handles are made with cane, wood, twine and rubber, according to a statement from the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the guardian of the game’s laws, released to media today. The move follows the development of bats that use materials such as graphite and titanium in their lightweight handles, giving extra power to batsmen. MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said the new laws, passed with overwhelming 98.6 per cent support, were designed to maintain the balance between bat and ball. “In cricket, the battle between bat and ball is key,” he said. “If one comes to dominate the other, the game will become predictable and less enjoyable to play and watch.”

Stephenson said cricket pitches, balls and boundaries had changed little in centuries but “modern bats have developed to the extent that mis-hits are now sometimes clearing the boundary rope for six”.

He said the MCC was mindful of the impact of technology on other sports when it ruled that bats must be made “in the traditional manner”. “Golfers drive the ball enormous distances, tennis players serve at greater speeds, footballers can dip and swerve the ball extravagantly,” he said. “If the development of cricket bats is left unchecked the balance could be tipped too far towards batsmen.”

Stephenson said modern training methods meant many batsmen were stronger and fitter than their predecessors, allowing them to hit the ball harder and further. “MCC is not trying to legislate against those players, but rather the new materials that could give them an unfair advantage,” he said.

In addition to setting out the materials that can be used in bat handles, the new laws also state that the handle cannot exceed 52 per cent of the bat’s total length. The MCC said it would carry out random tests around the world to esure bats complied with the new law.