Can bamboo bats substitute traditional willow ones?

Bamboo cricket bat, stumps from Tripura adds to bamboo vs willow debate

In India, cricket bats are prepared from willow woods sourced from Kashmir

Bamboo bat and stumps prepared in Tripura. Credit: Bamboo and Cane Development Institute, Agartala

Can bamboo cricket bat be a substitute of the popular willow cricket bat in use now? Yes, they can. With this promise, Tripura has come up with cricket bat and stumps made from bamboo varieties, which are mostly grown in the Northeast.

The Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Agartala with the help of North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an agency under the union ministry of science and technology, has developed the cricket bat by using bamboo glue board technology and the stumps from Thyrsostachys Oliveri, a bamboo variety, which is nearly solid and straight. 

"Bamboo cricket bats are slightly heavier but carry good strokes. Bamboo bat is made up of bamboo glue board technology, which is a substitute of wood and a sustainable material," BCDI said.

When asked about durability of the bamboo bat compared to the willow bats, director general of NECTAR, Arun Kumar Sarma told DH, "Bamboo bat is much better than willow bat because of uniform density. We will soon send the samples to various agencies for feedback. Acceptability of a bamboo bat may take some time but we are looking at the huge market of cricket equipment in our country for creating livelihood options."

This comes amid a debate whether bamboo bat can be a substitute of willow cricket bat. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the famous cricket club at Lord's in England, earlier this year, said that the bamboo bat would be illegal under the current law, which bans lamination of the blade, except in junior bats. "The current law states that the blade of the bat must consist solely of wood, so for bamboo (which is a grass) to be considered as a realistic alternative to willow would require a law change," the MCC said in a statement in May. 

In India, cricket bats are prepared from willow woods sourced from Kashmir. 

Abhinav Kant, who heads the BCDI said their purpose was not to compete with the willow bats but to provide a substitute. "Bamboo is the fastest growing and sustainable material and is abundantly available in Northeast states. So we can utilise this resource for value addition," he said. "NECTAR is in talks with bat industry players in Meerut for feedback regarding the bamboo bat," he added.

Bamboo stumps are made of Thyrsostachys Oliveri, a special bamboo variety, which is nearly solid and straight. A small hollow central core can also provide a natural way for fixing stump mic and camera, the BCDI said in a statement.