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Sport Cricket bats made from BAMBOO are 'better than willow', study finds

03:15  10 may  2021
03:15  10 may  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Cricket bats are traditionally made of willow from the Salix alba tree. But Cambridge researchers made a full-size prototype bat from bamboo . They found the bamboo bats are three times stronger and 22% stiffer. This means bats could be made lighter while still hitting the ball as hard and fast. Due to the density of bamboo it was 40 per cent heavier than one made of willow . But when the researchers analysed its properties and compared it to the more traditional material, they realised bamboo was much more robust than willow . Dr Darshil Shah and his colleague Ben Tinkler-Davies

Bamboo cricket bats are stronger, offer a better ‘sweet spot’ and deliver more energy to the ball than those made from traditional willow , tests conducted by the University of Cambridge show. Bamboo could, the study argues, help cricket to expand faster in poorer parts of the world and make the sport more environmentally friendly. This would help batsmen as lighter blades can be swung faster to transfer more energy to the ball. The researchers also found that bamboo is 22% stiffer than willow which also increases the speed at which the ball leaves the bat .

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Few things are as quintessentially English as the crack of a leather-clad cricket ball being dispatched though the covers by a bat made of homegrown willow.

But the global expansion of the game, driven by insatiable demand in Asia, has left manufacturers looking for cheaper, more sustainable alternatives to the light-coloured wood of the Salix alba tree.

A team of scientists now believe bamboo may not only be a viable substitute, but in fact a superior material for a bat.

Experiments revealed bamboo bats are stronger, stiffer, lower-cost, more eco-friendly, and have a bigger middle — or sweet spot.

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Demand for English willow to make cricket bats will always be feverish until supply falters or an equal woody rival emerges. There are uncomfortable truths about the English willow market and more broadly, the manufacture of cricket bats . With bamboo as with any other wood, it comes down to whether it will take the impact of a cricket ball again and again, after being robust enough to be shaped into a bat without cracking and splitting. Bamboo is one of nature’s most remarkable and versatile raw materials used for flooring, construction and most importantly, feeding pandas.

The best cricket bats are made from English willow . Furniture such as chairs, table-frames, bookcases, stools etc.; fencing; large, thick bamboo poles can make sheds, be used for roofing, or even for building whole houses in tropical regions of the world. In South-East Asia, hollow bamboo is also used for piping as well ! Bamboo is a type of wood, so as such has as great a range of applications as any other type.

The extra strength means bats could be made thinner and lighter than they are now while still transferring more energy into the ball, allowing for more powerful shots.

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a close up of a tool: Curious scientists from the University of Cambridge worked with bat manufacturers Garrard & Flack and made a full-sized prototype bat from bamboo (pictured) and ran tests © Provided by Daily Mail Curious scientists from the University of Cambridge worked with bat manufacturers Garrard & Flack and made a full-sized prototype bat from bamboo (pictured) and ran tests a man holding a frisbee in a yard: Pictured, Ben Tinkler-Davies, co-author of the research, holds a straight drive pose with his bamboo bat. The bat was built to the same dimensions as a willow blade but was 40 per cent heavier © Provided by Daily Mail Pictured, Ben Tinkler-Davies, co-author of the research, holds a straight drive pose with his bamboo bat. The bat was built to the same dimensions as a willow blade but was 40 per cent heavier

Bamboo is abundant in its native Asia sand other parts of the world, grows vertically and fast, is the favoured food of pandas, and is an extremely strong plant.

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Although baseball bats were traditionally made from ash or maple wood, today baseball bats are also made from composite materials, aluminum and alloy. Baseball bat wood used is mostly maple,hickery and bamboo . In cricket dennis lillee once used an Aluminum bat and he was reprimanded by umpires and opponents to only use traditional wooden willow bats since then 99% of cricketers Composite baseball bats are able to perform far better than wood baseball bats , offering a lot more trampoline effect and durability. A cricket bat is 38 inches long maximum and baseball bat can be 42 inches long.

The best cricket bats are made from English willow . The quality cricket bats are made by Slazenger, according to popular opinion. Slazenger is a company that has been making cricket bats for more than 70 years, and their quality is unmatched by any other bat maker.

Curious scientists from the University of Cambridge worked with bat manufacturers Garrard & Flack and made a full-sized prototype bat from bamboo and ran tests.

Due to the density of bamboo it was 40 per cent heavier than one made of willow.

But when the researchers analysed its properties and compared it to the more traditional material, they realised bamboo was much more robust than willow.

Dr Darshil Shah and his colleague Ben Tinkler-Davies found bamboo bats, on a like-for-like basis are three times as strong as willow.

As well as the load-bearing bonus, bamboo bats are also 22 per cent stiffer than willow which increases the velocity of the ball once struck.

a large tree in a grassy field: Bamboo cricket bats would help diminish cricket's class divide by dramatically reducing the cost of equipment, as willow bats can cost hundreds of pounds because the wood is in short supply and takes 15 years to mature. Pictured, a Salix Alba tree © Provided by Daily Mail Bamboo cricket bats would help diminish cricket's class divide by dramatically reducing the cost of equipment, as willow bats can cost hundreds of pounds because the wood is in short supply and takes 15 years to mature. Pictured, a Salix Alba tree a group of palm trees and a fence: Bamboo (pictured) is abundant in its native Asia, as well as other parts of the world, grows vertically and fast, is the favoured food of pandas, and is an extremely strong grass © Provided by Daily Mail Bamboo (pictured) is abundant in its native Asia, as well as other parts of the world, grows vertically and fast, is the favoured food of pandas, and is an extremely strong grass

How a bamboo cricket bat was made

In the 19th century, cricket bat makers experimented with various types of wood but from the 1890s, they settled on the sapwood of Salix Alba, a light coloured willow.

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English Willow and Kashmir Willow are used for making cricket bats for use against leather cricket balls. To understand the difference between the two, let us first get to know them better . Both willows are obtained from the same tree, SALIX ALBA var. Kashmir Willow bats cannot be used at the professional level – MYTH, MYTH, MYTH !!! This is contrary to what most people, including professional cricketers , believe. Kashmir Willow cricket bats are equally capable of performing well . Though, the percentage of such high-performance Kashmir Willow bats is far lesser than English willow bats .

The bat is traditionally made from willow wood, specifically from a variety of White Willow called Cricket Bat Willow (Sal-ix Alba var. cerulea), treated with raw (unboiled) linseed oil, which has a protective function. They are made of coniferous wood also called as Willow . They are a special type of wood that are best suited for high performance cricket bats .

It offered high stiffness, low density and visual appeal.

The use of cane in cricket has been limited to bat handles and pads.

Working with local a cricket bat manufacturer Garrard & Flack, the researchers made a full-size bamboo bat prototype.

They first had to split the bamboo into lengths (about 2.5 metres long), plane them flat and then stack, glue and laminate them into solid planks ready to be cut into different sizes.

While this sounds laborious, using laminated bamboo avoids the rolling processes needed to harden willow.

When the team compared the effect of the 'knock-in' process on both materials, they found that after 5 hours bamboo's surface hardness had increased to twice that of pressed willow.

All this, the researchers say, means a bamboo bat could be made thinner and lighter than current willow tools while packing a bigger punch.

In what will be no doubt be music to the ears of batters, but not so much bowlers, the sweet spot on a bamboo bat was also found to be significantly larger than on willow weapons.

The enlarged 2cm x 4cm (0.8 x 1.6 inch) sweet spot, or middle, is also located further down the bat, sitting just 12.5cm (4inches) from the toe.

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Vibrations were also similar to the currently used tools, with the new material feeling the same in the hand when striking a ball as the tried-and-tested willow.

Dr Shah, a former member of Thailand's under-19 national cricket team, said: 'This is a batsman's dream.

'The sweet-spot on a bamboo bat makes it much easier to hit a four off a yorker for starters, but it's exciting for all kinds of strokes.

'We'd just need to adjust our technique to make the most of it, and the bat's design requires a little optimisation too.'

Much has been made in recent months of the reinvention of cricket and its role in an ever-evolving world.

National bodies, such as the ECB and BCCI are actively trying to shed the shackles of their past and reshape the sport simultaneously as an egalitarian hobby and a commercial powerhouse.

The success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the face of stinging criticism from hard-line traditionalists and the divisive conception of The Hundred are prime examples of the past and present of this historic sport colliding.

Never before has the sport been better positioned to accept what would be a radical change if cricket was to embrace bamboo bats.

But, of all sports, cricket may be the most reluctant to embrace new things.

Live streaming of the county championship has only become widespread this season, and there is vocal opposition to honouring a trailblazing female cricketer, Rachael Heyhoe Flint, at Lord's, the home of cricket.

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a man holding a sign posing for the camera: Dr Darshil Shah holds the bamboo bat and the raw bamboo they used to make the bat © Provided by Daily Mail Dr Darshil Shah holds the bamboo bat and the raw bamboo they used to make the bat Dr Darshil Shah and Ben Tinkler-Davies  (pictured) found bamboo bats, on a like-for-like basis are three times as strong as willow © Provided by Daily Mail Dr Darshil Shah and Ben Tinkler-Davies  (pictured) found bamboo bats, on a like-for-like basis are three times as strong as willow

But the main issue facing English cricket is its over-reliance on private schools acting as a feeder system for the county and national teams.

Since the year 2000, 61 per cent of England's batters have been privately educated, with 27 per cent of bowlers and all-rounders stemming from pay-per-term schools, disproportionately more than the seven per cent of the general population.

Bamboo cricket bats may help diminish this class divide by dramatically reducing the cost of equipment, as willow bats can cost hundreds of pounds because the wood is in short supply and takes 15 years to mature, with a third of all willow grown for bats going to waste.

One of the reasons more batters than bowlers stem from private school is the fact that to bowl, one needs simply a fist-sized spherical object and some open space.

Expert calls for BAMBOO plants to be sold with a warning

Bamboo is a popular garden plant for people living in cities as it grows quickly, is very hardy and provides natural screening from nosy neighbours.

But experts say bamboo is an invasive plant that spreads rapidly and can damage houses, much like the notorious Japanese knotweed.

Shoots of the oriental plant have been found in people's homes after breaking through from their garden and experts are now calling for it to be sold with a warning to inform members of the public of the risk it poses.

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The roots of some varieties of the Asian plant can spread up to 30ft, causing large amounts of damage to nearby homes.

Its destructive ability and durability make it a risky choice for a domestic garden and also make it difficult and expensive to remove.

Batting practice, however, requires a bat, protective equipment, and most importantly, someone to bowl or throw a ball.

However, there is no shortage of bamboo. Moso and Guadua, the two most suitable types of bamboo, grow abundantly in China, Southeast Asia and South America.

Moso and Guadua mature twice as fast as willow and because of bamboo's regimented cellular structure, there is less waste in the bat-making process.

The researchers believe that high performance, low-cost production and increased sustainability could make bamboo bats a legitimate and ethical alternative to willow.

Mr Tinkler-Davies said: 'Cricket brings you really close to nature, you spend hours out in the field, but I think the sport can do a lot more for the environment by promoting sustainability.

'We've identified a golden opportunity to achieve that while also helping lower income countries to produce bats at lower cost.'

According to the MCC rulebook, the cricketing bible, the only stipulation as to what a bat must be made from is: 'The blade shall consist solely of wood'.

However, bamboo is a grass, not a wood, a technicality which excludes it from being used and would require a rule change to make wielding one legal.

But Dr Shah believes this alteration would be well within the spirit of the game.

He adds that the iconic sound of bat on ball is very similar whether it comes from willow or bamboo, saying 'you wouldn't notice much of a difference'.

'Tradition is really important but think about how much cricket bats, pads, gloves and helmets have already evolved,' Dr Shah said.

'The width and thickness of bats have changed dramatically over the decades.

'So if we can go back to having thinner blades but made from bamboo, while improving performance, outreach and sustainability, then why not?'

The findings of the paper are published in the Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology.

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