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5 most controversial bats in cricket history

  • Here's a look at when the willow was remembered for all the wrong reasons.
  • Andre Russell and Chris Gayle are two big names who have used controversial bats in the past.
Debdoot Das
FEATURED WRITER
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 23 Mar 2020, 18:19 IST

Andre Russell with the black and pink bat 
Andre Russell with the black and pink bat 

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell caused quite a surprise when he walked out to bat with a black-coloured willow in a Big Bash League 2016 match. Russell's use of the bat received mixed reactions on social media, with fans questioning the legality of using such a bat.

However, this was not the first time cricket equipment was subject to controversy. Cricket Australia, who had earlier cleared Russell to use it in the game claimed later that the bat was "changing the colour of the ball" and hence banned the usage of the bat.

While that was only one instance of a cricket bat's usage creating quite an uproar, there have been several other cases of bats causing issues. In this article, we have a look at five such instances when the usage of specially designed bats raised problems in the past.


#5 The monster bat of 1771

This is what the actual bat may have looked like 
This is what the actual bat may have looked like 

This was the first-ever instance when a huge controversy regarding the size of the bat came to light. This was an event that also brought in changes to the laws applied to decide the width of cricket bats.

It was a game between Chertsey and Hambleton on September 25th, a batsman playing for the former team came out with a huge bat, wide enough to cover the width of the stumps. The bat was reportedly used to block out the ball, such that the bowlers could not get the batsman out bowled.

Hambleton players did not have any option but to protest against the use of such a piece of willow and it was led by their fast bowler Thomas Brett. Later, Hambleton skipper and all-rounder Richard Nyren, leading bowler and batsman John Small signed a petition as well.

The petition led to a change in the laws of cricket wherein the maximum width of the bat was set at four-and-a-quarter inches. The batsman's move, though a stroke of genius, was lambasted all around as being unsportsmanlike.


#4 Dennis Lillee’s aluminium bat

Lillee with the bat which was called ‘Combat’
Lillee with the bat which was called ‘Combat’
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On December 15th, 1979, Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee walked out to the middle with an aluminium bat. It was the first Test of the Ashes series at Perth, and at stumps on Day 1, Australia were struggling at 232/8 with Lillee not out on 11. The next morning, he strode out with the aluminium bat in hand which took everyone by surprise.

He had done it once before, just 12 days back in a game against West Indies at Brisbane but then there were no complaints made.

On the second day, just four balls into the session, Lillee drove Ian Botham down the ground and collected three. Australian captain Greg Chappell thought the ball should have gone to the boundary and immediately asked 12th man Rodney Hogg to hand Lillee a traditional bat. But the fast bowler was in no mood to listen and continued playing with the one made of aluminium.

Meanwhile, England captain Mike Brearley had started complaining about the damage made on the ball and the constant stoppage in play. Chappell then decided to end it by entering the ground himself and handing a wooden bat to Lillee. The latter, in disgust, threw away the one made of aluminium and resumed his innings.


#3 Ponting’s bat with a carbon graphite strip

Ponting with the graphite bat (PC: ABC)
Ponting with the graphite bat (PC: ABC)

It was the year 2006 when Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s bat came under much scrutiny for a thin strip of carbon graphite which was attached to the back of the willow.

The MCC expressed their concern to the International Cricket Council (ICC), stating the strip was adding extra power to the bat which was an advantage for the batsman.

After reviewing all evidence and going through every small detail of the bat, the MCC claimed that it was indeed illegal to use such a bat. They also rejected two other Kookaburra bats, the Beast and the Genesis Hurricane which also had brightly coloured graphite strips down the back of the blade, claiming that it broke the laws regarding bat enhancements.

Ponting, with the same bat, had scored a double century versus Pakistan at Sydney in a Test match in 2004-2005.


#2 The Mongoose

Mathew Hayden with the ‘Mongoose’ 
Mathew Hayden with the ‘Mongoose’ 

Former Australian opener Mathew Hayden turned quite a few heads when he strolled out to bat in the 2010 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a bat called the Mongoose, which many believed would revolutionise the game.

What Hayden had in hand was an MMi3, a shorter, deadlier version of the bat. As expected, there was an uproar questioning the legality of using such a bat.

However, Hayden exhibited how destructive the bat could be as he smashed his way to a 43-ball 93 against the Delhi Daredevils.

The bat was also given a thumbs up by Bangladesh cricketer Mohammad Ashraful, who claimed that the whole bat could be considered as the sweet spot, and one only needed to connect to send the ball soaring into the stands for six.

While the Mongoose was effective in smashing sixes, defending the good balls was becoming an issue, a reason that prompted Suresh Raina to switch back to using the traditional bat.


#1 Chris Gayle’s golden bat

Gayle had posted this photo on Facebook last year 
Gayle had posted this photo on Facebook last year 

A Spartan bat, which was covered in gold colour was flown from India to Australia so that West Indies star Chris Gayle could use it in the opening game of the 2015 edition of the Big Bash League (BBL) while representing the Melbourne Renegades.

Gayle did make his way out in the middle with the shiny piece of willow and hit a few big ones before getting out for 23 while trying to pull a short delivery. However, many fans claimed that the bat had metal in it, and this caused an issue surrounding the need to ban the usage of the bat.

However, according to IANS, Spartan boss Kunal Sharma rubbished such reports saying, “There is no metal in the gold colouring we are using in the bat. There are restrictions on what you can and can’t use in cricket bats.”


Published 23 Mar 2020, 13:44 IST
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