The domination of bat over ball may be coming to an end - or at least beginning to be restricted - with MCC’s new tweak to the Laws.
Graphite-backed bats disappeared nearly two years ago. Now it is the turn of fancy handles and modern bat-making methods.
On October 1 the new version of Law 6 came into effect, the Law that covers the bat. The change is aimed at limiting the materials that can be used in bats so that they do not become too powerful.
MCC’s World Cricket committee - the cricket think-tank featuring many of the game’s most established names - and the Laws sub-committee were both concerned about maintaining the balance between bat and ball.
Batsmen, it is judged, have had it too good for too long. As technology and bat-making techniques have improved, mis-hits have been going for six and defensive pushes for four. It has become demoralising and thankless for bowlers, particularly spinners.
The replacement Law 6 and newly created Appendix E will force manufacturers to use traditional bat-making techniques. Handles must be predominantly made from cane or wood, which will see an end to carbon-fibre handles or any other extreme innovation. This brings bats back to basics.
MCC also introduces a new distinction between bats - grading them A, B or C depending on their constituent materials. In professional cricket, only Grade A bats can be used but all grades will be allowed in almost all amateur cricket.
For amateurs bats that have become illegal thanks to the Law change (those with non-wooden handles, for instance) are fine to use until the end of their natural lives. In addition, it may take several years for bats to be appropriately graded, so playing with an ungraded bat is also allowed.
Umpires in professional cricket will be given details of how to enforce the Law at that level but MCC believes it is important not to force amateurs to buy new bats.
The width and height restrictions of the bat remain the same and there is still no limit imposed on the depth of the bat (you just have to see the size of some of the manufacturers’ bat ranges for 2009 to see how thick bats are getting). The depth is something MCC may consider in the future.