MCC plans law changes to get handle on booming bats

The MCC, guardians of the laws of the game, plan to revise the rules to clarify the law banning all composite materials used in bats or handles. John Stephenson, head of cricket for MCC, will present a paper to members today after which a vote will be taken.

"We are concerned at the moment about the balance of the game between bat and ball," Stephenson said. "While we do not want to discourage innovation, we want to ensure bat manufacturers make bats made of willow and bat handles of cane, rubber and glue."

The issue of whether batsmen were gaining an advantage came up in 2006 when graphite bats of the kind used by the Australia captain Ricky Ponting were withdrawn from international cricket by the manufacturer Kookaburra.

"We thought we had got there last year but Gray-Nicolls came up with a bat handle with composite materials like graphite and titanium," added Stephenson. "So we decided to redefine the handle in terms of rubber, cane and glue. It's the first time that the bat handle will be defined in the laws of cricket." The MCC and bat manufacturers have agreed to an amicable phasing out of "illegal" bats.

Meanwhile, Ravi Bopara has explained his decision to spurn a bumper pay day in the Indian Premier League, insisting that a successful international future means more to him than a short-term financial gain.

The England all-rounder rejected a substantial six-figure sum to link up with an unnamed IPL franchise for the final four weeks of the competition in a bid to re-establish his England credentials. "When figures like these are put in front of you it is tempting, but my goal is to play regularly for England," he said, "so I am confident that if I continue to score runs and take wickets for Essex then I will hopefully play for England this summer and for many years to come.

"My first priority is with England. As a kid my ambition was to have a successful international career. All my cricketing idols have had successful international careers and I want to emulate them. I'm currently playing well and with a Test series coming up if there was an injury to our batting line-up I'd like to think I would be next in line.

"[The offer] is a nice gesture – it's nice to be known and wanted. But I have other responsibilities – to score enough runs to get into the England team."