(Reuters) -If a group of Cambridge University scientists have their way, cricket fans might soon have to become accustomed to the sound of leather on bamboo.
A study conducted by Darshil Shah and Ben Tinkler-Davies of Cambridge University said that bats made of laminated bamboo were stronger than those fashioned from the traditional willow.
Apart from being stiffer and more sustainable, bamboo bats were found to have a bigger middle or 'sweet spot'.
"This is a batsman's dream," Shah was quoted as saying in The Times.
"The sweet spot on a bamboo bat makes it much easier to hit a four off a Yorker for starters, but it’s exciting for all kinds of strokes."
The prototype was 40% heavier than traditional bats because bamboo is denser but the research added that lighter blades could be developed to generate speed and transfer more energy to the ball.
According to the sport's governing body Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which regulates the material used to make cricket bats, the blade should "consist solely of wood". Bamboo is categorised as grass.
"Bamboo is a grass not a wood so there would need to be discussions with the MCC," Shah added.
"But we think playing with a bamboo bat would be within the spirit of the game because it's a plant-based material and cane, a type of grass, is already used in the handle."
The MCC said it had "read with interest" the research study and would discuss it at its next laws sub-committee meeting.
"... For bamboo to be considered as a realistic alternative to willow would require a law change," the governing body said.
"Importantly, the law would need to be altered to allow bamboo specifically, as even if it were to be recognised as a wood, this would still be illegal under the current law, which bans lamination of the blade, except in junior bats."
The MCC has ensured bats are not too powerful, taking steps in 2008 and 2017 to limit the materials and size of the bats.
"Sustainability is a relevant topic for MCC and cricket, and this angle of willow alternatives should also be considered," the MCC said.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)