Thursday, January 19, 2006

Its not a "Bat", its Materials Engineering

They say cricket is ruled by batsmen. Unfortunately people get more entertainment for watching boundaries and overboundaries not by waiting for a wicket to fall. All these fun comes from couple of pieces rather few pieces of wood, called bat. International Cicket Council has a poor definition of this piece. A bat looks like this
can not be longer than 96.5 cm including the handle and maximum width shouldn’t exceed 10.8 cm. must be made of wood. There is no restrictions on the weight of the bat (typically 3 lb), the shape: well its understood, there is no definition by ICC. The blade of the bat can be covered with some material for protection and repair, should not strengthen the bat and the thickness of this cover should not exceed 1.56 mm. Recently a committee headed by Sunil Gavaskar, recommended some more criteria, the important one for this case is that you can not infiltrate anything in the blade moreover it should be made of one solid piece of wood.
Where is the scope for improvement? Material scientists and engineers step in here, before addressing this issue let us know where we need improvement. Of course ball should travel faster than what they do now. When a ball hits the bat at a very high speed, there are lots of vibrations and minimizing this has been challenge for sometimes. Striking the ball hard is easy when its hits at the “sweet spot”. This region is almost 12 cm above the bottom of the bat, the thickest part, we define this place as the place where minimum vibration is felt and the ball travels much faster. The sound we say heavenly when it hit this sweet spot. So extending the sweet spot region is also an important issue.
How to go about it? There are few research institute and Universities in Australia and in England are really doing quite a bit of research in these field. The departments associated with this are Material Science and Design, so its science and engineering combination. Lets see a bat, it has go 2 parts, one is solid part the one piece wood one and the other is the handle. The handle is a composite material its made up of canes put together with rubber and adhesive in between. This actually dampens the vibration which comes after the ball hits the bat. In RMIT university in Australia researchers are trying to make the handle with a composite material containing carbon fiber and polymer, this dampens the vibration more compared to conventional handle. This is the bat which probably Rickey Ponting wanted to use last year, under ICC supervision. In case of base ball bat the vibration control system is a piezoelectric device, which generates voltage to nullify the effect of vibration, it’s a software controlled process and these software were developed after a rigorous study on vibration, soon in cricket too we will see such modification setting in. Due to the rules we can not progress much with the blade part from the material science point of view, this is a pure problem for designers, design aspect only can extend the sweet spot. Tennis and Golf has progressed a lot in these regards. They are using the best possible materials for such application, reinforced graphite of bulk metallic glass are few should be named. Lets hope ICC will overcome its conservative resistance and make cricket more exciting.

Some links:

ICC home page

Bat size specification


Mogadalai said...


Is there a site where the ICC standards/specifications for bat are given? If so, why not give a link to it?

M o z i n r a c k said...

hi santanu it's nice this one also....;ID=j0r3r54u92aw;STATUS=A?QRY=cricket&STYPE=ENTIRE