The cricket bat has been around as long as the historic game itself, but the process of making bats has evolved over time to produce bats in a range of weights. Cricketers can now choose between a lightweight and heavyweight bat, but which one of the two is better?
A faster bat swing is more effective in hitting the ball farther than an impact from a heavier cricket bat. An ideal combination would be that of a heavy bat producing a fast bat swing. However, that is difficult. Thus, for maximum bat power, a bat that is heavy but also feels comfortable to swing is the best.
Modern cricket bats tend to weigh from 2lb 7 oz to 3lb but the main thing batsmen are concerned with is how many runs they can make with it. Some cricketers perform better with light bats and others with a heavier one. It all boils down to the batting stance of the batsman.
Let’s find out more information about the weight of cricket bats, what the difference in weight can mean for a batsman, what restrictions there are on weight, and what weight of bat some famous cricketers prefer to use.
Why Should a Player Choose a Lightweight Cricket Bat?
If a batsman relies on his timing to generate power with his stroke making he may choose to use a lighter cricket bat. Australian scientists have calculated that lightweight bats can be swung about 10% quicker than heavyweight bats, and as a result the ball comes off the bat around 7.5% faster.
In another research done by Florida State University, bat swing speed can increase the velocity of the ball up to 22 miles per hour! The part of the research concluded that swinging a bat of the same weight faster was more beneficial than swinging a heavier bat at the same speed.
Did You Know?
Although a heavier bat increases the velocity with which a ball is hit, a bat swing speed has a higher impact on the velocity and the distance of the hit as compared to the bat weight.
A player who does not rely on physical strength, or prefers to play shots where they react quickly to use the pace of the ball, may prefer to use a lighter willow.
Why Should a Player Choose a Heavyweight Cricket Bat?
A heavyweight bat might be chosen by a cricketer who likes to muscle the ball to the boundary. A heavy bat can generate much more power than a lighter one. This can mean that even when a batsman mis-times a stroke off a bowler they are still able to generate enough in their shot for the ball to reach the boundary for a four or a six. You will most likely need stronger arms and wrists to be able to use a very heavy bat to its best effect, though.
Which One Is Better: Lightweight or a Heavyweight Cricket Bat?
If a cricketer is able to swing both light and heavy bats at the same speed then a heavyweight bat is better, because the batsman will be able to generate more power.
However, that scenario is rarely the case. The ‘perfect’ bat should be one which has a large profile but a very light ‘dead weight’. But it’s important to remember batting can be considered more of an art and not an exact science!
As well as a batsman’s strength to hold the bat the choice of weight really depends on the individual batsman, their batting technique, their stance and grip. There is a psychological aspect too. Some players may feel more confident holding a heavier bat in their hands, others might feel it weighs them down and prefer something lighter. It really is a matter of personal choice!
What is the Best Method to Choose the Weight of a Cricket Bat?
Without a doubt, the best way to choose the correct weight for a bat is to pick up a range of bats of different weights in person and swing the bat as if you are trying to hit the ball to the boundary.
It might be more difficult in today’s fast-paced life to visit a bat maker or a shop with a full range of bats, especially when there may be tantalising deals on the internet with cheaper prices. But there is no substitute for taking the time in person to select your blade to get the weight, and profile, exactly right.
Would you buy a car before a test drive to get a feel for how the vehicle handles? Probably not, and the same rule applies for the ‘pickup’ of a bat.
Of course, a lot can depend on your strengths as a player – in a literal and figurative sense! If you are a smaller player, who is quick and nifty, then a lighter bat might be more suitable.
If you are a well-built, powerful, and strong player, then perhaps you might prefer a heavier bat. That being said, there are no hard and fast rules: some physically bigger players prefer a light bat, some smaller batsmen prefer a heavy bat.
Are there any Limits on the Weight of a Cricket Bat?
There are no standard restrictions on the weight of a cricket bat. But the Laws of Cricket are very specific about what a bat’s dimensions can be. This effectively plays a part in restricting and determining the weight.
A cricket bat can be no more than 38 inches (965 mm) in length, 4.25 inches (108 mm) in width, a not have a greater depth than 2.64 inches (67 mm). Furthermore, the edges must not be thicker than 1.56 inches (40 mm). Umpires use a bat gauge to make sure the bat is within the accepted limits of the Laws.
The above restrictions on the dimensions mean that a cricket bat may weigh anywhere between 2 lbs to 3 lbs and 6 oz.
Can a Cricket Bat be Made by a Material other than Wood to change the weight?
Bats can only be made out of wood, after a change to the Laws of Cricket in 1979. This law was introduced after England’s players objected to Australia’s Dennis Lillee use of the ‘ComBat’ – a bat made out of aluminium – during a Test math at Perth that year.
England’s players complained the metal bat, a specially-designed blade by a friend of Lillee’s, had damaged the ball and the umpires instructed Lillee to exchange it for a wooden bat before he could continue batting.
Although at the time there were no rules or limitations on the type of bat that could be used, however, since the aluminium bat seemed to cause damage the cricket ball, the umpires disallowed its use. Dennis Lillie was furious about it, and threw the bat away in disgust.
Which Famous Cricketers use a Lightweight Bat?
Australia’s legendary batsman Don Bradman used a lightweight cricket bat which weighed 2lb 3oz and he finished his career with a Test match average of 99.94. Bradman’s stature – a diminutive 5ft 7in – and quick feet around crease meant he wanted to wield a willow which would not weigh him down.
Len Hutton, regarded one of England’s greatest ever batsmen, even used a harrow size bat which would not have weighed much over 2lb. By modern standards, India’s Virat Kohli and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson both prefer a light bat weighing 2lb 8oz while Australian Steve Smith opts for one weighing 2lbs and 9 oz.
Who are Some Well-Known Players that use a Heavyweight Bat?
India’s Sachin Tendulkar was famed for liking a heavy bat. His willow weighed in at a hefty 3lb 4oz – which incredibly is over a pound heavier than the bat the great Bradman used – and it brought the ‘Master Blaster’ a substantial number of runs too!
West Indies legend Viv Richards was renowned for his expansive stroke play in the 1970s and 1980s and he used a bat that weighed 2lb 10oz but that’s still a little behind team-mate Clive Lloyd who, like Tendulkar, had a beefy willow weighing 3lb 4oz.
Among current players, Chris Gayle, who has hit more sixes in ODI cricket than any other player in history, prefers a heavyweight bat that weighs in at 3lb.
Back in history batsmen preferred very light bats, but as cricketers themselves have got physically bigger and stronger there has been a trend towards bats with a bit more weight to generate more power. Some modern batsmen prefer the kind of heavyweight bats that would have been unimaginable to cricketers playing the game a hundred years ago.
Ultimately, the debate between whether a lightweight or heavyweight bat is better depends on the personal preference of the player holding the bat. A batsman would maybe measure which is better not on the weight of the bat, but on the weight of runs he has scored with it.
Image Credit for Article’s Featured Image – Glenn Mitchell