Saturday, June 15, 2024

Remember the bat that tried (and failed) to change cricket? Small but mighty Mongoose promised sixes galore, but didn’t prove to be such a big hit

Must read

It is 15 years this weekend since the English domestic game welcomed a new bat that tore up tradition and threatened a big-hitting revolution.

The entrance of the Mongoose, so named by the marketing people because it was a small and ferocious beast, came during the first innings of Derbyshire’s victory over Durham at Chester-le-Street with Stuart Law 15 balls into an innings of 42.

Australian batsman Law had played himself in with a traditional willow but called for the bat designed expressly for Twenty20 cricket — and for six-hitting in particular — as the home attack headed into the death overs.

With its handle 43 per cent longer than its rivals and its body a third smaller but much meatier — as a result of weight being taken out of the shoulders of the bat and added to the toe, and the splice being housed in the handle rather than the blade itself — the Mongoose’s design made it work like a golf club, generating increased bat speed and sending the ball an estimated 20 per cent further over the boundary.

Law rather uncharitably referred to it as a ‘half-brick on a stick’, but was nevertheless keen enough to let it do his bashing.

It is 15 years this weekend since the English domestic game welcomed a new bat called the ‘Mongoose’. It was a unique bat that tore up tradition and threatened a big-hitting revolution

The Mongoose¿s design made it work like a golf club, generating increased bat speed and sending the ball an estimated 20 per cent further over the boundary, but it wasn't a big hit

The Mongoose’s design made it work like a golf club, generating increased bat speed and sending the ball an estimated 20 per cent further over the boundary, but it wasn’t a big hit

Initial results were modest. Having galloped to 32, Law mustered only 10 runs from as many balls and was run out in the final over.

However, with the MCC passing the bat’s validity — while questioning whether ditching a traditional-looking blade mid-innings represented an unnecessary slowing of proceedings and a challenging of the spirit of the game — it was viewed as a tool for ambitious players to get ahead.

And when Law’s fellow Australian Matthew Hayden used the long handle to the best possible effect, producing one blitz of 93 off just 43 deliveries against Delhi in helping Chennai Super Kings to the following year’s Indian Premier League title, it challenged those who refused to acknowledge it as anything more than a gimmick.

So what stopped it establishing itself as the bat of choice for cricket’s six-ier future, then?

The simplest answer was its lack of versatility. Players reported that while its dimensions provided its face with a 100 per cent sweet spot brilliant for launching into full balls, they were not so good when combating short ones, and they also found it difficult to play defensive shots.

Indeed, Mongoose made it clear it was not a bat for Test cricket. By 2017, it was not a bat for any form of cricket, following changes to the Laws that were lobbied for by the MCC’s cricket committee.

Concerned about a growing imbalance between bat and ball, prompted by a steady increase in bat thickness, they tackled the power game by limiting maximum bat dimensions to a width of 108mm, a depth of 67mm and edges of 40mm.

Multiple bat manufacturers’ products had begun incorporating edges up to 50 per cent bigger than those of the previous century and the reduction in the volume of wood permitted lower down bats countered Mongoose’s design, leading to them ceasing operations in 2019.

The Mongoose was criticised by players for its lack of versatility and was then outlawed in 2017

The Mongoose was criticised by players for its lack of versatility and was then outlawed in 2017

Big guns here and ready to have a Blast 

Two of the more successful Twenty20 counties have strengthened their squads by securing last-minute overseas deals ahead of the Vitality Blast next week.

Hampshire reacted to the late unavailability of Afghanistan’s Naveen-ul-Haq by snapping up South African seamer Ottniel Baartman — a champion in the SA20 in both its seasons.

He will help offset the absence of Nathan Ellis, who is at the T20 World Cup with Australia. Ben McDermott, a Blast winner with the club in 2022, returns for a third straight year.

Holders Somerset have lured a bowler with X-factor pace in Riley Meredith — a team-mate of Ellis’s at Hobart Hurricanes. They are one of two clubs without at least two overseas recruits.

Middlesex, in part owing to financial restrictions from the ECB, are the other.

Somerset have strengthened ahead of the T20 blast by signing Australian quick Riley Meredith

Somerset have strengthened ahead of the T20 blast by signing Australian quick Riley Meredith

Lancashire’s new star likened to Stokes

Tom Aspinwall might not be a name well known to county cricket followers but he has plenty in common with some of the English game’s highest-profile players. Not least Test captain Ben Stokes.

Like fellow all-rounder Stokes, despite being born outside the county, Aspinwall was raised in and featured for the age group teams of Cumbria. Comparing notes on their backgrounds would have been a decent conversation starter when the pair went for dinner last week on the eve of Lancashire’s thrilling County Championship 60-run success over Durham.

The pair are represented by the same management company and met prior to a match which featured the 20-year-old’s maiden first-class runs and wickets.

Both come from working-class backgrounds but in contrast to Stokes, who turned down Sedbergh School’s offer of private education, Lancaster-born Aspinwall accepted one of their sports scholarships.

Aspinwall’s bowling has edged his batting thus far and his undemonstrative demeanour when dismissing opponents this week represented a throwback to a long-gone era.

Latest article