Hyderabad: The day may not be far off when dreams of young cricketers becoming the next Virat Kohli or Chris Gayle and play the game with a top grade cricket bat come true.
At present, a decent quality bat for beginners costs about Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 with the very best used by top cricketers of the world costing ten times more. Also on the horizon is a bat expected to sell at a whopping Rs one lakh.
But thanks to two researchers at University of British Columbia in Canada, a cricket bat that can give the run for their money to the very best in the world is in the offing. And it is expected to cost as little as $ 30 or about Rs 2,000 each. The goal in producing this ‘Algobat’ – so named by its makers as its design was based on complicated design algorithms – made from wood less expensive than high quality English Willow preferred by top cricketers, is to put a quality bat into the hands of more people and get them into the sport.
The bat was designed by UBC forestry professor Phil Evans and PhD researcher Sadegh Mazloomi, who wrote the algorithms. Evans and Mazloomi used machine learning and genetic algorithms to teach a computer to maximise the performance of a cricket bat which resulted Algobat that is on par with some of the finest and most expensive on the market.
“We will be testing the bat over the next six months,” Mazloomi told Telangana Today. “Our bat is aimed at both learners and top players.” The bat is expected to be put through its paces and its performance compared with the best professional standard bats now available in the market.
The prototype was made from Canadian Willow and Subalpine Fir, and if it is made from Poplar, then it can cost as less as $ 30, Mazloomi said. According to Evans, “for young kids just starting out, the cost of a high-quality bat can be prohibitive.”
Algobat, Mazloomi said “resembles the shape of some of the finest bats in terms of back spine profile and the thickness. Its weight is also pretty similar to some of the traditional bats.” Algobat is designed to do what a good bat is supposed to do, maximize the rebound energy when it makes contact with the ball. “This allows the batsman to transfer full power to the shot,” he said.
“English Willow is the best wood for bats, but there is room for alternatives, as long as the bat performance stays the same. Manufacturers could optimise the design of the bat to match the unique characteristics of a particular species of wood—and our technique can make that possible,” Evans said.
“It’s fascinating that our cricket bat, which was designed based on physics and machine learning techniques, actually resembles the best commercial bat designs, which evolved by trial and error over hundreds of years,” he added.
“We hope that manufacturers can use this method to either make the world’s best cricket bat, or to make them out of cheaper woods while maintaining the quality and the performance of the bat,” said Evans. “Our ultimate goal is to put high-quality bats in the hands of all the young kids in Australia, England, India and elsewhere who cannot currently afford one.”