Imagine James Anderson steaming in at Old Trafford under overcast skies, charges in to bowl to Murali Vijay. The India opener, unsure of the swing, prods tentatively outside the off-stump, gets a thick outside edge and the ball drops short of second slip. It happens a few more times in the course of incisive spells from Anderson and Stuart Broad. The edges just do not carry to the slip cordon.
The batsman survives, rides his 'nine' lives and goes on to make a big hundred. India in the driver's seat. One batsman after the other, manages to get away with streaky shots early in their innings against the swinging ball and England are left wondering what slice of luck the tourist are riding. ('India's Batting at Old Trafford a Joke')
Just that, it is no slice of luck. It is modern technology; technology that ensures a safety net to batsmen, when they edge to the slips, an innovation that could tilt the game more heavily in favour of batsmen, who rule the roost in limited overs cricket anyways.
Humming Whale Product Innovations, a company started by four young graduates from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Roorkee, could sweep cricket's rule makers off their feet with their revolutionary concept. The 'Falcon Bat' as it is called, will be lighter and more powerful with a slant to ensure the ball travels downwards, instead of flying away to eager slip fielders.
The bat will be tapered to ensure that edges are safer and the wood compensated around the edges will be used to make the sweet spot bulkier. According to the inventors, the bat will help players defend and hit straight down the ground and through covers, without having to worry where the edges might land.
The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, might well be interested if the bat comes to the market.
"When we had the initial idea, we wanted to optimise the shape of the bat. We wanted it to be safer and give it aerodynamic performance. The Mongoose bat gives more impetus on power. We wanted to make it technically better. We realised if we gave a slant to the bat surface, the ball would travel downward," Ayush Jain, one of Humming Whale Product Innovations told NDTVSports.
"For three to four months, we made a few alterations and carried out theoretical simulations. We tried to make real match situations and employed the straight drives and cover drives. We realised the advantage the bat could give players. Some fine-tuning happened when we could play around with data," said Jain.
The 'Falcon Bat' concept has already been cleared by the MCC and that means the new bats can be ready for use in international cricket as soon as the products are launched in the market. Getting the approval was not easy in itself, but the company approached the Board of Control for Cricket in India, who in turn directed the group to the International Cricket Council; the world governing body then referred Jain and his friends to the MCC.
"We wanted affirmation from the MCC and they approved the bat. They also appreciated the fact that we went to them before launching the product. They have asked for a sample that they could keep in their archives," Jain said.
The new 'bat' in itself is still a concept, a design. The innovators have so far only worked on existing top-end bats, but they are making efforts to tie up with major bat manufacturing companies, who could produce those willows for them.
The designs will cater to individual players and their requirements, which could vary with pitch conditions and the kind of bowling attacks they face. There have been mixed reactions from players and coaches, who have tried the modified bats in the maidans of Mumbai but it is clear that there more pros than cons.
Jain and his colleagues are planning to get in touch with Rahane once he is back from England to see what he thinks of the bat. However, Humming Whale feels Rahul Dravid could be the best judge, given his intricate understanding of all things cricket.
The makers however feel the bat could be more useful for natural strokemakers like Kohli, Pujara, Dhawan and men who like to swing the bat.
If the concept does take off, bowlers across the world, will have more reasons to fret in a game already dominated heavily by batsmen.