CA using light touch on big bat crackdown
Umpires given gauges to measure any suspect pieces of willow following ICC crackdown on oversized bats
28 September 2017, 12:35 PM AEST
Umpires armed with bat gauges have the power to take players aside and check their bats conform to new international size guidelines, but Cricket Australia does not believe illegal willow will become a major issue this summer.
The International Cricket Council announced Tuesday that Marylebone Cricket Club restrictions on bat thickness will be adopted in all international cricket from Thursday, with the ongoing the India-Australia one-day series representing the last matches that will be played under the existing rules.
CA have confirmed the new regulations, which will see bat edges limited to 40mm and their overall depth to 67mm, will be implemented in all domestic formats in Australia from this season.
Australia's best batsmen have not been caught on the hop by the changes, with leading bat-makers confirming they've been crafting their willow to the new restrictions in recent months.
Players had previously been using bats with edges as big as 55mm and up to 80mm in overall depth, according to bat manufacturer Grey-Nicolls.
But the likes of Test vice-captain David Warner have adjusted by using bats within the new regulations since the MCC earlier this year confirmed a new Code of Laws banning big bats would be introduced.
"Bar the odd example in T20 where some players walk out with tree stumps, the rules are based around what players are generally using at the moment," CA's head of cricket operations Peter Roach told cricket.com.au.
"The 40mm edge and the 67mm depth limit - they weren't just pulled out of the sky, they were based on what most of the guys were within at the moment.
"It's about saying we want to keep a balance between bat and ball and the ICC believe they are the right measurements to use.
"We don't see it as being a significant change."
Umpires around Australia have been given bat gauges and if they believe a player is using an oversized bat, they've been instructed to measure the suspect piece of wood during an interval.
But Roach doesn't foresee match officials having to use the new plastic measuring equipment too often.
"It'd only be a case of if one stood out as looking a bit too big, they might call for a measurement at a break in play," he explained.
"We've had rules around bats since the game begun; the width of the bats (have been restricted to 108 mm).
"Umpires don't go measuring every player's bat before the game for width and we don't expect them to now measure the size of the edges.
"If it's blatantly obvious, they'll probably ask the question, dig in for the bat gauge and see if it fits through. But we don't see it being flaunted in competitions."
Warner said he started using bats that fit the new restrictions on Australia’s Qantas Tour of Bangladesh in August-September, and doesn’t believe his big-hitting capabilities will be curtailed by the change.
"It's basically the same bats that I started my career with," the left-hander told reporters in India. "I took them (his old bats) down to my bat-maker and said 'we've got to go back to what we started with'.
"It obviously didn't affect me then so I don't think it's going to affect me now.
"I think everyone has been misled in a way where they think the big bats clear the fence easier than what the old bats used to.
"We were hitting sixes with the bats five or six years ago and we're still hitting sixes today."
His Test teammates Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell both got a first-hand glimpse of the new gauges when picking up bats from Kookaburra earlier this year.
The likes of Warner, Handscomb and Maxwell have all had their bats strictly made to the new specifications, with Grey-Nicolls and Kookaburra both confirming they’ve used gauges to ensure their willow doesn't exceed the new restrictions.
"We were prepared and ready for the laws," Kookaburra head of communications Shannon Gill told cricket.com.au. "It doesn't affect that many of our elite players, a lot of them were not using bats that size anyway.
"It won't have a massive effect on the way we work with our players. We've made up gauges that our bat-makers use in what they do.
"Once the laws were announced, we eased them into it and prepared them for it by bringing the size down inside the acceptable levels some time ago."
Grey-Nicolls bat-maker Stuart Kranzbuhler, who works closely with some of Australia's leading batsmen – including Warner – on crafting their run-making weapons, agreed the rules haven't been a major disruption.
But he confirmed bats previously produced for Warner and six-hitting sensation Chris Lynn, as well some of their range that had previously been on sale to the general public, had exceeded the new regulations.
"The regulations they gave are basically what a standard cleft or piece of willow is anyway, so it's not going to be affect the majority of our players," Kranzbuhler told cricket.com.au.
"(But) it's obviously affected players like Warner and Lynn.
"Warner used them (oversized bats) in all forms but he likes a heavier bat, he still likes them around 2"11, 2"12 (about 1.21 – 1.24 kgs).
"It's probably more a mental thing for the players, they might have thought they could be more aggressive with a bigger bat, but it's a pretty minimal change with how much power they're going to have."