A group of technology students in India have created a cricket bat that has the potential to change the caught-behind as we know it. It is a topic that has already sparked debate from the ICC’s technical committee.
The 2015 Cricket World Cup reaffirmed that the format is well and truly a “batsman’s game”, while the steady increase in the thickness (but not weight) of cricket bats prompted Ian Chappell to voice his concern for the safety of bowlers and umpires. The ball is being hit harder than ever.
In a move likely to get cricket traditionalists wincing worldwide, the latest innovation in the cricket bat industry sees wood taken off the blade, making some parts of it thinner. This is not an invention in itself – just look at the likes of the 2015 GM Sigma Cricket Bat or Gray-Nicolls Omega cricket Bat, which both utilise cutting edge weight distribution techniques to ensure supreme power-to-weight ratios.
The USP for this new cricket bat, however, is to ensure edges don’t carry – or at least not as far as they do now. But with more weight distributed to the middle, it could see the ball travel even further if the sweet spot is met.
Mirik Gogri, Ayush Jain and some of their pals at the Indian Institute of Technology, have named this new cricket bat Gladius, which was inspired by India’s terrible run in away Tests in 2011 and 2012. The technologists wanted to help India reduce the amount of batsmen caught behind.
The cricket bat has tapered the edges. Under MCC laws, a bat face cannot be wider than 10.8cm. The Gladius cricket bat face remains at its maximum permitted width but the front is made narrower by 0.75cm on either side. The theory behind it is that if the cricket ball hits a slanted edge, it won’t carry as far as an edge off a standard cricket bat. Tapered sides are supposed to make outside edges weaker but give leading edges more ammunition, while the batsman will also benefit from increased bat speed.
The cricket bat does not fall foul of MCC rules as they stand now, but this innovation has forced a re-think, with the game’s lawmakers considering a stipulation that the face of the cricket bat should not be narrower than 8.8cm, which means the slant cannot be more than 1cm on either side.
Gogri explained to Cricinfo the science behind it: “When an edge hits a normal bat, the only direction a force acts on it is perpendicular. In this case [with the tapered edge] that force is slightly forward and slightly downward. This is not a huge directional change, mind you, but it can be the difference between the ball carrying and not carrying.”