Less than 24 hours after Sydney Thunder allrounder Andre Russell wielded an outrageous black bat in the KFC Big Bash League, Cricket Australia has banned the use of coloured bats that cause discoloration to the ball.
Russell’s black-painted bat was well within the BBL playing conditions, but unlike the gold and green bats that have been used in the past, the Jamaican’s blade left coloured marks on the white Kookaburra ball.
"The Match Officials provided feedback to Cricket Australia that the bat used by Andre left black marks on the match ball," said Head of the Big Bash Anthony Everard.
"As a result, we have decided to withdraw our approval for Andre to use the bat that was used last night as the colour solution used by the manufacturer was discolouring the ball.
"Should Andre, or any other BBL or WBBL player for that matter, wish to use a bat with a different colouring solution to the one used last night that doesn’t result in the discolouration of the match ball, they will be permitted to do so subject to Cricket Australia being satisfied that the bat won’t compromise the integrity of the game, which we believe discolouring the match ball does."
Veteran Sydney Sixers wicketkeeper Brad Haddin noticed the black spots emerging on the ball during Russell’s short stay at the crease on Tuesday night at Spotless Stadium.
"With that black bat, the ball, if you have a close look at it, it has four black marks on it," Haddin told the Channel Ten Sport commentators while mic’d up.
"So if he had of batted for any time, it may have proven hard to see."
Russell made only nine from seven balls, but on-field umpires Paul Wilson and Jon Ward were wary the bat might get banned if it left the ball discoloured.
"It was a bit of a surprise, we didn't see it coming,” Wilson told Optus Sport's Umpires' Verdict when asked on his first impression of Russell’s bat.
"(Russell’s) had permission from Cricket Australia to use that bat, whether he gets to use it going forward will depend on whether Cricket Australia is happy with what it saw tonight."
Ward added, "After Andre was dismissed there was two black marks on the ball. If he stayed in for a long time it might pose a problem I'd say."
Russell's bat manufacturer Spartan released a statement on its website stating extra measure will be taken to make sure none of its bat discolour a ball in the future and that we can expect to see more coloured bats in BBL|06.
"Spartan is aware of allegations that the bat had left black marks on the ball during the Thunder innings last night," read the statement on Spartan's website.
"While it has not been proven conclusively that these came from Andre’s bat, Spartan will now be implementing extra measures to ensure there is no opportunity for this to occur in future games.
"An Extratec protective coating was applied to the face and edges of the bat for last night’s game. For future fixtures, this will be applied as a sleeve to the full blade of the bat.
"Andre Russell will not be the only Spartan player using a coloured bat during this summer’s Big Bash competition.
"This initial outing provided so much excitement for the competition and has people all over the world talking about cricket and the BBL.
"Spartan is determined to not detract from this momentum in any way going forward as we are great supporters of the BBL and Cricket Australia."
It’s not the first time the BBL has seen a batsman bring out the paint brush and use a coloured bat.
Russell’s Thunder teammate Aiden Blizzard used an electric green bat against the Sixers in January this year, while former Melbourne Renegades power hitter Chris Gayle swung a gold bat in BBL|05.
The rule which currently stands, that a player must use the Club’s primary colour or black, was brought in after last summer. Gayle was given permission to use the gold bat by CA.
"A player can use a coloured bat subject to CA approval," a CA spokesperson said on Tuesday.
"The bat may be the same colour as the Club’s primary colour, or black.
"CA retains the right to withdraw approval in its absolute discretion.
"The umpires can also request a player change the bat if they believe it affects the integrity of the match."
Russell will be sporting a different bat when he faces the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night as the Thunder search for their first win after getting thrashed by nine wickets by the Sixers.