History of Cricket Bat and Ball Design

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Cricket Bat and Ball Design

The beautiful game of cricket that we all love and cherish has undergone the inevitable process of evolution. The history of the cricket bat and its design is a vital part of that evolution. In this article, the history of cricket ball and bat has been thoroughly explored. The beginning of the cricket bat history is a tragic one. The first appearance cricket bat made in the media was in 1624 when a batsman murdered a fielder with his bat in his attempt to avoid getting caught out.   That is why today Indian Premier League betting changed a lot. 

Early Cricket Bats

The aesthetically pleasing cricket bats that we see today in the game are far from the bats used at the inception of the game. A hockey stick-styled bat was used up until the 1770s as the bowlers were not allowed to loop the ball. The trajectory of the ball bowled was close to the pitch and therefore a hockey stick-styled bat made sense at that time. After it was made legal for the bowlers to loop the ball, the first and the most significant change in the history of cricket bat design was made. The cricket bats became virtually parallel with 4.25 inches width at max. This design has prevailed with changes, albeit little ones, to this day.

Tightening of the Laws

Timeline in the Evolution of the Cricket Bat

YearEvent
1624The media first mentioned the cricket bat
1771The bat width was restricted to a maximum of 4.25 inches
1820-29Handles were separately spliced into the lighter bats
1835The bat length was restricted to a maximum of 38 inches
1840Bat handles made of India rubber/whalebone were infused with a spring
1853Bat handles were made using a cane
1864Legalization of over-arm bowling resulted in lighter bats
1870Evolution of the cricket bat to the modern-day design

In the 1820s, the bowling style evolved and the round-arm style of bowling became the norm. The manufacturing companies had to innovate to compensate for the extra bounce generated by this new style of bowling. The new bats were lighter and had high swells which allowed batsmen superior liberty in terms of movement. As the art of fast bowling evolved, the bats inclined to break more often as the bats back then were made in one piece. This prompted the manufacturers to make the handles separately and then splice them into the bats. The handles were usually made of willow or ash wood. In 1835, the length of the bat was also restricted with a maximum allowed length to be 38 inches. This restriction is being followed to this day. In 1840 another modification was made to the handles of the cricket bat. A spring was inserted in the handle made of India rubber/whalebone. It was done to enable the bat to better cope with the impact the ball made. 1853 saw the beginning of cane being used in the bat handles. This innovation was proposed by Thomas Nixon, an active county player. Bats were modified further after the legalization of over-arm bowling in 1864. The design of the bat was focused on them being lighter which allowed the batsmen greater liberty to play their shots.  

The modern-day design of the cricket bat began taking shape in the 1870s. Since the dawn of the 19th century, English willow was used in the manufacturing of cricket bats. The bats were made of the heartwood of the willow tree. The heartwood is dense which made the bats heavier and darker color as compared to the modern-day cricket bats.

Lighter & Whiter

In 1890, the bat manufacturers began to use sapwood instead of heartwood which made the bats lighter and whiter. The sapwood is far lighter and appealing aesthetically. Manufacturing companies in their quest to make bats even lighter discovered that moisture plays a vital role in that regard. The amount of moisture retained by the willow determines the weight of the bat. The companies reduced the moisture leading to even lighter bats without compromising their power. After these developments cricket betting rates today fully changed and became better for players and fans.

Weight of Bats Used by Legends of the Game

NameWeight of Bat
Kumar Ranjitsinhji, Victor Trumper2 pounds
Don Bradman, Walter Hammond, Jack Hobbs 2 pounds and 2 ounces
Bill Ponsford2 pounds and 14 ounces
Clive Lloyd, Greame Pollock, Sachin Tendulkar, Lance KlusnerOver 3 pounds

In 1979, Denis Lille used a bat made of aluminium against England. The English captain filed a complaint against the use of the bat with ICC. This resulted in Lille being banned from using that bat again. Australia’s Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting experimented with graphite-reinforced bats provided by their sponsor Kookaburra. This experiment didn’t last long either.

Construction Until the 1960s

  • From 1890 to 1960, no major modification in terms of the design and appearance of the cricket bats occurred.
  • In the 1950s, famous manufacturer Gary Nicholls launched their “Super Scoop” cricket bats. These bats were inspired by the golf clubs with parameterized weights. The weight was redistributed in the bats from the middle to the edges. This resulted in the “Super Scoop” bats having a larger strike area. 
  • Bat makers have continually found ways to make the bats lighter while still retaining their power. Moisture reduction of the willow has allowed for lighter and more efficient bats in regards to strength. 
  • Modern bats are lighter with more depth and larger edges as compared to the bats used in the mid to late 20th century.

History of the Cricket Ball

  • From the inception of test cricket in 1877, the cricket ball has remained practically unchanged. The shape and size have always remained the same and the only variations seen are the color and the weight of the ball.
  • The weight of the cricket ball in modern times varies between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces whereas in 1744 it could have varied in-between the 5-6 ounces range.
  • The cricket ball consists of a cork core, strings tightly wound around the core, and a leather case.
  • Red balls were used in all the formats of cricket until 1977.
  • Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket introduced the white balls in 1977. The white cricket balls were used in the shorter format of the game which back then was One Day 60 overs a side game.  
  • The introduction of T20 and T10 games saw the use of white balls in these formats too.
  • MCC introduced the pinks cricket balls in 2009 which have become the norm for the Day/Night Test matches since 2015.

Cricket Bat History: In Conclusion

Since the first appearance of a cricket bat in the media, the bat makers have revolutionized the field. From the hockey-style bats to the modern-shaped bats that we see nowadays, the cricket bats have gradually become lighter, thicker, whiter, and chunkier. The use of sapwood instead of heartwood and the moisture reduction in the willow played the most important part in the evolution of the cricket bat.

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