Sachin Tendulkar’s bat is too heavy

Spiro Zavos Columnist

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Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar nicks a delivery from Australian bowler Brett Lee - AAP Image/Julian Smith
The Extra Cover section in the Sun-Herald had an interesting paragraph on the weight of Sachin Tendulkar’s bat.

According to Stuart Kranzbuhler, Tendulkar uses a bat that weighs 3lb 40z (1.51kg) and “the average Aussie guys use maybe 2lb 9oz (1.1kg) and Jacob Oram’s got the heaviest bat we make, about 2lb 12oz (1.2kg)”.

Oram is a huge man, easily big enough to play second row for the All Blacks. Tendulkar is small (a couple of centimetres shorter than the small Don Bradman) and quite thick-set. But it is ludicrous that he uses a bat that is over a pound heavier than Bradman’s bat (2lb 3oz) and significantly heavier than that used by Oram, who is over a foot taller than he is.

Tendulkar could argue that over 11,000 test runs and 37 test centuries are powerful arguments in favour of the huge blockbusters he uses. But I would argue that he probably would have an even more imposing record with a lighter bat. The ‘evidence’ for this was there during Tendulkar’s second inning in the Melbourne test.

Tendulkar came in and immediately took the attack to the Australians, who were pitching the ball up to him. Then Brett Lee fired a couple of bouncers which Tendulkar tried to swing away to the boundary. He was late in his shots. When Lee bowled a sucker ball, shortish and wide of the off-side, Tendulkar was late again on his attempted cut and managed only to snick the ball for a caught behind.

Over the years watching Tendulkar you see plenty of evidence of the power he gets from hitting through the ball on either side of the wicket with the full face of the bat. He can push a ball back past the bowler and the ball races away to the boundary. That heavy bat with its huge 30mm edges, compared with the 8 mm of the Bradman bats, gives the ball a great clunk when the full face of the blade is presented. There is also the fact, too, that the heavy blade and the thick, New York steak edges, spreads the sweet spot all over the bat, in contrast to the middle of the blade some centimetres from the toe as in the Bradman bat.

However, I’ve noticed that Tendulkar often misses with his cross bat shots, the cuts and the hooks that were easy pickings for Don Bradman. To me the reason for this is obvious. The bat Tendulkar uses is just too heavy to get up and then through with his cross bat to deal with the shorter deliveries. Unlike say Brian Lara or Don Bradman, Tendulkar does not make a huge number of massive double centuries.  Again, I believe that the heavy bat just gets too heavy over the course of a long innings and he makes a mistake of timing he might not have made with a lighter bat.

Most batsmen up to the last twenty years or so preferred to use bats that were considerably under 3lb in weight. Graeme Hick and Clive Lloyd started the trend towards the really heavy bat. Hick developed a technique that was pioneered by Tony Greig of raising his bat well before the ball was bowled as a way of adjusting his back lift to the greater bat weight. A ‘flat wicket bully,’ Hick scored well over a hundred centuries in first class cricket but failed in test cricket. He found it difficult to cope with the rising ball. The reason for this, it seemed to me, was that he could not get his bat into line with cross bat shots, even though he had already done his back lift.

Tendulkar is a much better batsman than Hick. But he has something of the same problem with his cross bat shots (but not as bad) as Hick did. How good would Tendulkar be, even now in the twilight of his career, if he started using a much lighter, average weight (2lb 8oz) bat? As it is now, he is using a broadblade in a contest that really requires a rapier.

Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.
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