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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cricket Bat Invention

Stateline Tasmania

AIRLIE WARD: Like tennis rackets, cricket bats have what's called a "sweet spot". It's the area on the bat which gives the batsman maximum reward for effort. Now a Tasmanian builder has come up with a new design which enhances that sweet spot and also strengthens bats against breakages. Ron Sears is hoping his engineering effort will be revolutionary in the cricket world. Fiona Blackwood explains.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: Like the 123-year old Ashes series cricket bat design is steeped in history.

GEORGE BAILEY: I think cricket's one of the sports where the gear has - especially cricket bats - apart from minor changes haven't really changed for over 100 years.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: There's been a bit of tinkering with the shape of the bat and they're certainly a lot lighter these days. But they're also prone to breakages.

GLEN HUGHES: Breakages with bats, these days being such a popular sport, is quite regular. Bats aren't really made to stand for two or three years. They're made in mass production so the actual longevity of the actually bats is pretty short these days.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: Glen Hughes had been delivering his broken bats to builder Ron Sears for repairs.

RON SEARS: The damage on bats that would be passed on to me from cricketers and quite often it was the edges that was the big problem so I looked at this first up, to probably enhance the edges of the bat in order to limit and from there on it grew and I could then see the huge scope that was available to do what I've done.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: Over the past two years Ron Sears has been fiddling with design ideas until he came up with a way of strengthening the bat.

RON SEARS: This is an insert. As you can see, it's got a bend in it. What we do is take a groove out of the edge of the bat and this is then inserted into the bat but in the opposite fashion.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: The insert also serves another purpose. Because it has a spring to it it enhances the bat's sweet spot.

RON SEARS: It transfers the energy of a mishit shot back to the handle rather than twisting the bat as such and giving the batsman a hard time with that so it's got a double pronged attack.

AIRLIE WARD: Tests of the new bat are proving promising.

GEORGE BAILEY: The obvious difference that I've found straight away is that you can't jar the bat so even a couple that I hit pretty badly still seemed to come off the bat with a much better pace and much easier on the hands than the bats I've used without the spring-loaded tension.

GLENN HUGHES: It's very similar to the tightening of a tennis racket, the reprogramming of that. We've seen players use a different tightness. this has the same rebounding effect. It's like the ball hitting the bat sweetly all the time. The noise just makes it very, very easy to say that bat is working to its maximum effect. Ron Sears is in in the process of obtaining a world wide patent on his invention.

RON SEARS: It's taken a lot of time. It might look simple, Fiona, but there's been quite a bit of thought and errors along the way, changes, but this, I'm just about there.

FIONA BLACKWOOD: It's almost like reinventing the wheel and for this builder with 40 years experience under his belt it's his ultimate dream to revolutionise the way cricket bats are made.


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