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Bamboo cricket bat beats willow, scientists say

If a group of Cambridge University scientists have their way, cricket fans might soon have to become accustomed to the sound of leather on bamboo.

A study, published today in The Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, said cricket bats made of laminated bamboo were stronger than those fashioned from the traditional willow.

“There is quite a big shortage of willow,” Doctor Dashil Shah, from Cambridge University’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, told Reuters.

“The demand for willow is going to substantially increase and if we want to, as cricket lovers, if we want more cricket and everyone to play cricket there is just not going to be enough willow to go around and we clearly need to be thinking about alternative materials for it and bamboo is a great alternative for that,” said Shah, who co-authored the report along with Ben Tinkler-Davies.

Apart from being stiffer and more sustainable, bamboo bats were found to have a bigger middle or ‘sweet spot’.

“So this bat is a batsman’s dream,” said Shah.

“It’s all about the sweet spot here. So firstly the sweet spot is sweeter than usual willow, the sweet spot is also larger in its area so it’s easier to connect and time, or rather it’s difficult to mis-time shots and also the sweet spot is closer to the toe of the bat.”

The prototype was 40% heavier than traditional bats because bamboo is denser but the research added that lighter blades could be developed to generate speed and transfer more energy to the ball.

According to the sport’s governing body, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which regulates the material used to make cricket bats, the blade should “consist solely of wood”.

Bamboo is categorised as grass.

The MCC was not immediately available to respond to the innovation.

(Production: Stuart McDill)

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