Sachin Tendulkar’s bat is too heavy

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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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
    Spiro Zavos

    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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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • December 31st 2007 @ 6:24am
      raider justin said | December 31st 2007 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      Interesting you mention this Spiro – during the Australian innings the commentators made a few comments about Phil Jaques consistently missing his cross bat shots. His eye was in, technique perfect but just too late to the ball. They said unequivocally that his bat was too heavy.

    • January 1st 2008 @ 10:55am
      Cow Corner said | January 1st 2008 @ 10:55am | ! Report

      I have heard that Bradman used a lighter bat as he got older presumably as he lost a lttle strength and speed. A former Sydney first grader John “Kanga” Pym who is still playing cricket at age 60ish, now uses a Harrow bat (kid’s size) based on Bradman’s logic that it made sense to use a lighter bat as he grew older. Incidentally, Kanga was arguably the first man to don a helmet for batting in the early 1970’s and also made a few other interesting innovations that did not catch on. Kanga was an opening batsman and thought glueing sandpaper to the face of his bat would help him take the shine off the ball. He also experimenting with early “scoop” bats by drilling holes in the back of his bat using his trusty Black and Decker drill. Anway, I cannot believe a very heavy bat is a good idea for Tendulkar at this stage of his career. A 1.5 Kg bat must feel like a railway sleeper in your hands! However he is clearly used to heavier bats and who can argue with his record? Maybe if he used even a slightly lighter bat, it would help him on cross bat shots and still not have to run too many threes?

    • Columnist

      January 2nd 2008 @ 10:39am
      Spiro Zavos said | January 2nd 2008 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      To follow up on raider justin’s comment. I’ve been watching the opening overs of the SCG test before going down to the Olympic Hotel for lunch. Phil Jacques has been dismissed trying to cut a lifting ball outside his off stump. Bat too heavy perhaps for a cross bat shot early on in his innings on a sporty pitch?

    • January 16th 2008 @ 2:45pm
      Lewis Jones said | January 16th 2008 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

      It is truly ridiculous that you question Sachin Tendulkar’s ability to chose the right equipment. Tendulkar would not be providing an “argument” for him using the right bat when telling you of the 11,000 runs he scored with it; how could he, and therefore all of us, consider any other way? The man knows what bat he should be using and he knows how to use it. When Tony Greig offered his opinion on Jacques suffering from the same inability to know what’s best for him, Michael Slater rightly reminded him that a man playing for his nation (the toughest team to make right now) knows what bat he should be using. There are so many subjects more ripe for discussion right now!

      • June 29th 2011 @ 4:32pm
        Rugby Diehard said | June 29th 2011 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

        LJ – I’m right behind you – Spiro was really struggling for material with this one!!! The fact of the matter is Sachin lets his timing do the talking….

        If one was to look at (pointless) hypotheticals it could equally be argued that the weight of Tendulkar’s bat has trained him to not play at many of the cross-bat shots which have been the bain of many a batsman’s careers.

        Maybe Sachin would have scored fewer had he used a lighter bat?

    • October 20th 2008 @ 10:11am
      Is Ponting playing for a draw, already? » The Roar - Your Sports Opinion said | October 20th 2008 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      […] theory is that he uses a bat that is too heavy, and when he has to make adjustments to balls short of length outside his off-stump, he is often a […]

    • August 1st 2009 @ 6:55am
      Mohammad said | August 1st 2009 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      This is a nice article, and obviously an observation I have made. The simple truth of the matter is that tendulkar doesn’t suffer from a lighter bat, there is a compromise sure, but he makes up for that with a wide range of powerful straight bat shots.

      Tendulkar is nowhere as good of a puller or a cutter of the ball as Ponting or Lara are. Both Lara and Ponting have high backlifts aswell which would further make it harder for them to use really heavy bats. The plus point is that with a very high backlift, you can use a light bat and still drive the ball pretty powerfully. Personally I feel Tendulkar did the right thing opting for heavier bats, his medium level backlift and down the ground stroke play is well suited for heavy bats. Sure he would be a tad bit late on the cuts or pulls facing very quick bowling, but defensively he was tremendous throughout his career defending the quick short stuff off the backfoot with a straight bat.

      There is always a compromise you make, every player is different, tendulkar wouldnt be able to push half those shots down the ground for 4s with a lighter bat, but he would be able to cut and pull better. He decided that he prefers playing straight bat even to short pitch deliveries, often punching them straight back down off the back foot. I think he has done just fine.

      I also think its absolutely amazing how sometimes on rare occasions he is able to pull or hook 150kmph balls to the boundary as I have seen him do with Akhtar a couple of times.

      Personally I play club cricket, I have an extremely high backlift, i used to use heavier bats and struggled with my pulls and cuts which I am naturally good at, however I made up for that with tremendously powerful flicks and drives towards mid on and square leg. I now use a lighter bat, which due to my high backlift allows me to drive, pull and cut easily with results.

      to each his own.

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