Andre Russell’s black and pink bat, which he unveiled while batting for Sydney Thunder in the inaugural Big Bash League 2016-17 game against Sydney Sixers on Tuesday (December 20), has been outlawed by the BBL technical committee following feedback that it left black marks on the ball.
Russell, batting at No. 6, scored nine runs from seven balls as Thunder put up 159 for 8, which was overhauled by Sixers for the loss of just one wicket in 18 overs.
When he got to the crease wielding the black willow – with a pink handle – Brad Haddin, the Sixers wicketkeeper who was miked up, was heard asking if the bat was legal.
Interestingly, black and pink are the Sixers’ colours, as against Thunder’s black and yellow.
The bat was deemed legal at the time, with a Cricket Australia spokesperson quoted on the board’s website as saying, “A player can use a coloured bat subject to CA approval. The bat may be the same colour as the club’s primary colour, or black. CA retains the right to withdraw approval in its absolute discretion. The umpires can also request a player change the bat if they believe it affects the integrity of the match.”
It did, to the extent that the bat discoloured the white ball, according to John Ward and Paul Wilson, the on-field umpires, and Peter Marshall, the match referee.
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“The match officials provided feedback to Cricket Australia that the bat used by Andre left black marks on the match ball,” said Anthony Everard, the BBL chief, on Wednesday. “As a result, we have decided to withdraw our approval for Andre to use the bat that was used last night as the colour solution used by the manufacturer was discolouring the ball.
“Should Andre, or any other BBL or WBBL player for that matter, wish to use a bat with a different colouring solution to the one used last night that doesn’t result in the discolouration of the match ball, they will be permitted to do so subject to Cricket Australia being satisfied that the bat won’t compromise the integrity of the game, which we believe discolouring the match ball does.”
The BBL has, in the past, seen batsmen experiment with the colours of their bats. Chris Gayle walked out with a golden bat while turning out for Melbourne Renegades, and Aiden Blizzard used an electric green piece of wood for Thunder last season.
Closer home, Abhinav Mukund used a black willow, manufactured by Sunridges, while playing for Albert Tuti Patriots in the Tamil Nadu Premier League in September this year. The tournament organisers approved the bat, but, as Abhinav explained, the black paint came off in places when he connected with the ball, like was the case with Russell’s Spartan bat.