MCC has read with interest the research study from the University of Cambridge, which suggests that cricket bats made from bamboo offer a more suitable alternative to the traditional use of willow.
Currently, Law 5.3.2 states that the blade of the bat must consist solely of wood, so for bamboo (which is a grass) to be considered as a realistic alternative to willow would require a Law change.
Importantly, the Law would need to be altered to allow bamboo specifically, as even if it were to be recognised as a wood, this would still be illegal under the current Law, which bans lamination of the blade, except in junior bats.
MCC’s role as Guardian of the Laws includes maintaining the balance between bat and ball, and any potential amendments to the Law would need to carefully take this into consideration, particularly the concept of the bat producing greater power. The Club has worked hard to ensure that bats aren’t too powerful, taking steps in 2008 and 2017 to limit the materials and the size of the bats for this purpose.
Sustainability is a relevant topic for MCC and indeed cricket, and this angle of willow alternatives should also be considered. With the researchers stating that the most suitable types of bamboo grow abundantly across China and that low-cost production could make bamboo bats a viable and ethical alternative to willow, this could provide a pertinent angle for further research and the possibility of reducing the cost of producing bats in different areas of the world.
The Club will discuss the topic at the next Laws sub-committee meeting.