Smaller bats? That’s not cricket!
YOUNGER siblings and fast bowlers around the nation will be rejoicing and crossing fingers with the news cricket bat sizes look set to be reduced and restricted.
Calls for a downsizing of the willow came from a number of former players including ex-Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, as fears grew about the imbalance between bat and ball.
Ponting led calls for a restriction last week on bat sizes in Test cricket, happy for bigger bats to remain in the shorter formats of the game, however it's unclear whether different laws for different formats would be introduced.
Restrictions on size, depth and weight of bats could become part of the laws of cricket with the Marylebone Cricket Club's world committee to confer with bat manufacturers and other stakeholders before finalising amendments to the laws which were expected to come in by October, 2017.
That timeframes mean the 2017-18 Ashes series could be the first that sees restricted bats in action.
The reaction from players around the globe was mixed, with some saying pitches were as much a part of the issue, although it's expected fast bowlers will be pleased with the changes.
Nambour Cricket Club's junior coordinator Peter Miles said he was "all for" the changes, happy to see a better balanced competition, but noted it was the limited-overs formats that had captured the attention of the youth.
"The junior kids all love the Big Bash," Mr Miles said.
Mr Miles said it was basically a batsman's game these days and said the bats had evolved at a rapid rate, much like the game itself.
"Nothing's changed for the bowler," he said.
Sunshine Coast junior representative coach Don Bambling has been coaching cricket for the past three decades.
He said heavier bats combined with evolution were eroding techniques in young batsmen.
"They're unable to play good cricket shots, they struggle with square cuts and pulling," Mr Bambling said.
"A lot of them want to hit in the air as a result (of playing with heavier or oversized bats)."
Which is fine if they're looking to emulate their new heroes like Dave Warner or Glenn Maxwell, but Mr Bambling warned the effect was that many youngsters found themselves spending more time on the sidelines, dismissed early in their innings due to poor techniques.
"They're (juniors) becoming weaker on their non-dominant side," Mr Bambling said.
"If anything bats should be getting lighter and smaller to get back to good cricket shots."
So what should you be buying your little cricket fanatic next season to give them the best chance of one day pulling on the baggy green?
Mr Bambling says there are two keys:
1. A light bat: Don't buy a bat that kids will "grow into". It doesn't work. they must be playing with a bat that fits them now and make sure it's on the lighter side, to ensure they can play a full array of strokes.
2. Get a skipping rope: Mr Bambling says technology has made young cricketers better and better at their hand-eye coordination but footwork is suffering as a result, so a strong skipping regime helps to sharpen up their feet at the crease.
"Evolution is changing the way the game is," the experienced coach said.
What does the MCC propose?
- Cricket's law makers have proposed bat edges be a maximum thickness of 35mm-40mm with a depth between 60mm-65mm
- Current bats have edges up to 55mm thick at present and are as much as 80mm deep