Messing around in the nets last year, I picked up an old bat my dad found in his loft, a Gunn & Moore Maestro that can't have seen action for at least 15 years. Ripe as an old conker and half as dark, I expected it to split down the middle. Instead, with the bowling machine cranked up for some short stuff, it played like a dream. The ball didn't trampoline from the face as it would from a modern bat, but it came off well enough, yet the real surprise was how much more quickly it felt like I was in position. When I got home, I stuck it on the scales: 2lbs 4oz.
I thought of it when reading about the Hawk batmakers [sponsors of this man] and their new LPi10 bat aimed at women players. It is, they say, 'lighter than a conventional bat' - and starts at 2lbs 6oz.
It shows how time has shifted: well-known ladies like Denis Compton [2lbs 2oz], Dame Don Bradman [2lbs 3oz] and Mrs Geoffrey Boycott [2lbs 4oz, sometimes changed to 2lbs 3oz after tea if he'd been batting all day] would have chucked a 2lb 6oz plank back into the kit bag. As Bob Appleyard once said, 'Billy Sutcliffe had a 2lb 6oz bat and he had to have it specially made'.
The game has changed of course. Much like forged golf clubs that used to have minute sweet spots, old bats were made for uncovered wickets, and for men who had to be able to manouvre the ball. But it's easy to get sucked into using a railway sleeper because the odd one you hit in the middle really pings. I'm trying to find a bat that looks manly and weighs around 2lbs 8oz at the moment.
NB: Any offers welcome...