Australias latest contribution to cricket,a double-sided bat used by David Warner in a domestic match last week,has been in news and is expected to become a rage in this era of Twenty20 cricket. But,almost forgotten now,a similar invention had been sent for trial to players by an Indian manufacturer way back in 1982.
The bat,made in Meerut,was compressed from both sides and hardened to prevent breakage,while the handle of the bat was kept thin to provide a balance. It needed to be oiled and knocked,as was the norm in those days. The basic concept was the same as Warners bat impart maximum force irrespective of which part of the bat the ball hits while attempting outrageous shots.
These bats were first manufactured by us in 1982,just a year before India won the World Cup. There was a lot of demand for special bats even later for Sixes tournaments. There was a craze for six-a-side tournaments held in Hong Kong,Singapore and Bangkok,and we made the bat specifically for those tournaments, says Rakesh Mahajan,owner of bat-maker BDM.
Before going for mass production,we gave away bats to players for practice. In fact,during the Singapore tournament,players like Kapil Dev,Arjuna Ranatunga,Joel Garner,Rumesh Ratnayake used those bats at the nets.
But the bats never became public and the manufacturers ceased production after getting adverse remarks. It wasnt liked by players because they wanted something more conventional. There was very little scope for experimentation back then, says Mahajan,adding that his bats still cant be used,even in Twenty20.
These bats have one major drawback theres no meat on them. Its good for players who prefer to time the ball,but this version of cricket is all about force. In fact,these days players come to us with the demand of increasing the meat on the bat to 15 inches which is not easy because the imported willow doesnt have that much width, Mahajan says.
The newly-developed dual-sided bat by Gray Nicholls was used by New South Wales batsman Warner,who recently signed up with Delhi Daredevils for the IPL. According to bat designer Stuart Kranzbuhler,the new bat is made on an unique method of pressing the front and back of the English willow at high pressure to ensure a strong rebound at impact.