Suffolk cricket bat maker builds prototype out of bamboo for landmark study

University of Cambridge researcher Dr Darshil Shah with a bamboo cricket bat produced by Suffolk firm Garrard Cricket

University of Cambridge researcher Dr Darshil Shah with a bamboo cricket bat produced by Suffolk firm Garrard Cricket Bat Company - Credit: PA

A Suffolk cricket bat manufacturer thinks bamboo bats are unlikely to catch on — despite designing one for a University of Cambridge study.

Ed Garrard, boss of West Row-based Garrard Cricket Bat Company, worked with researchers from the university to develop a prototype bat made of laminated strips of bamboo.

The study found bamboo bats were stronger, cheaper and more sustainable than willow alternatives, raising hopes the bat could boost participation in countries such as India and China.

It also found bamboo bats were 22% stiffer than willow, which increases the speed at which the ball leaves the bat.

And researchers said the sweet spot on their prototype performed 19% better than that on a traditional willow bat and was closer to the toe.

Ed Garrad of Garrad & Flack

Ed Garrard of Garrard Cricket Bat Company making a traditional wooden bat in his workshop near Bury St Edmunds - Credit: MATT COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY UK


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However, the bat weighs 40% more than current bats and Mr Garrard believes that could be a problem.

He said: "They got us to make them last year as an experimental thing but it will never work because it's far too heavy. 

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"We're not going to suddenly become millionaires on this one."

Dr Darshil Shah of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, who is a former member of Thailand’s under-19 national cricket team, believes this issue could be overcome.

He said: “We’d just need to adjust our technique to make the most of it, and the bat’s design requires a little optimisation too.”

The study's co-author Ben Tinkler-Davies with a bamboo cricket bat. 

The study's co-author Ben Tinkler-Davies with a bamboo cricket bat. - Credit: PA

Study co-author Ben Tinkler-Davies added: "Our first prototype bat is 40% heavier than most full-size willow cricket bats so we now need to work out the optimum design to reduce that.

“Because laminated bamboo is so strong, we’re very confident we can make a bamboo bat light enough, even for today’s fast-scoring, short forms of the game.”

Currently bats are made from willow, which takes up to 15 years to mature and is mostly found in England. In contrast, Moso bamboo is more plentiful and matures in as little of five or six years.

The bat could also fall foul of the laws of the game. Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) rules say “the blade shall consist solely of wood” and bamboo is a grass.

Despite this researchers hope to enter discussions with the MCC and bat manufacturers, saying they believe the use of the bat would be "within the spirit of the game".  

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