Michael Vaughan believes bat thickness does not need limiting

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Former England captain Michael Vaughan
Former England captain Michael Vaughan

Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes concerns over the thickness of modern cricket bats are unfounded.

The MCC says bat thickness will be analysed with "immediate effect" after fears were raised about batsmen gaining unfair advantages over bowlers.

The MCC World Cricket Committee, a panel comprised of former and current players, recommended an investigation.external-link

"The bats are bigger and thicker, but it's great for the game because scoring rates are faster," said Vaughan.

"The ball flies out of the ground which is what we want to see.

"You should score more runs and more boundaries but there is still a lot of skill involved. I don't think there needs to be a limit on the thickness."

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said members of the committee raised concerns about the balance between bat and ball, particularly as the rise of Twenty20 cricket has seen an increase in the number of boundaries.

A bat cannot be longer than 38 inches, while the width should not exceed 4.25 inches at its widest part. But there are currently no laws which restrict the thickness of a bat.

The MCC World Cricket Committee,external-link which includes ex-England openers Michael Atherton and Geoffrey Boycott, is an independent body which meets twice a year to discuss the game's prevalent issues.

Former Yorkshire batsman Vaughan, who scored 5719 runs at an average of 41.44 in 82 Tests, also sits on the committee, but was not present at the latest meeting in Auckland.

"There was an observation from one of the members that it doesn't seem right that a batsman can aim to whip the ball over mid-on and it comes off the thick edge to go for six," said Stephenson, a former Essex and England all-rounder.

"We thought it was the right time to do it. We're not saying there is going to be a law change, but now is the right time to look at it.

"With the rise of Twenty20, and boundaries getting shorter, there are more sixes being hit.

"As MCC our job is to be the guardians of the laws and spirit of cricket. It's our role to keep the balance between bat and ball for the good of the game. We're not going to do anything to harm the game."

Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash insists the balance between bat and ball has not swung too far.

"Bats are significantly bigger to when I started," said the former Middlesex and Surrey player.

"But cricketers are also a lot stronger physically these days, go down to the gym more than they used to, and they also practice hitting sixes more because of the emergence of Twenty20 cricket."

Stephenson, 47, who is the senior MCC executive responsible for the Laws, said the focus of the research had to be decided, but was likely to include anecdotal evidence from players, bat manufacturers, umpires and spectators.

Academics from Imperial College in London, which specialises in science and engineering, may also be involved.

Ramifications of the research across the sport, from Test matches to amateur level, are still unknown at this early stage, said Stephenson.

"We don't know yet - that is the next stage. The first stage of the investigation is the research," he added.

"It's got to be thoroughly analysed before we go down the route of changing the laws."

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