New Delhi: A unique sensor-driven fully automatic machine — possibly the only one of its kind in the world — has just reduced several days’ process of making bats match-ready to a few minutes.
A leather ball, fitted on top of the bat in the machine, in 25 minutes flat hits the willow 4,000 times, the number ideally required in bringing the ‘stroke’ out and making the bat fit for matches.
Normally, it requires a few days for players to make a new bat match-fit by gently knocking it with a ball repeatedly until the ‘stroke’ is brought out.
One special aspect of the batstroking machine, which measures 2- foot x 3- foot and is 40 inches high, is that it can ‘season’, to use a cricketing jargon, all sizes of bats — from 28 inches long to 32 inches.
Another feature of the machine helps in customised knocking, in specific areas on the bat. It can ‘play’ up to 99,999 strokes in one go, but so many hits are never used on a bat as that would break the willow.
PRASHANT Doshi, who developed the first machine at a cost of about Rs 8 lakh, is now in the process of getting it patented so that the exclusivity remains with him and his company, Techno Vision.
It’s a sister concern of the well-known sports goods shop, Player’s Choice in Gandhi Nagar, Bangalore, where the machine has been installed.
A former first-division league batsman, Prashant, 35, says excited people are visiting his shop these days just to see how the machine works.
“We installed the machine a few days ago and some people come just to see how it works, they find it so fascinating. Now those who buy bats from us can also get it ‘seasoned’ within minutes,” Prashant, who has a degree in management, told MAIL TODAY.
The machine works in a fascinating manner. A leather ball of any quality is fixed on top of the machine, with only a part of its lower portion visible. The bat is tightly fixed exactly below the ball, and when the sensor-driven machine starts, the bat moves slowly with the ball constantly hitting the blade.
The process continues until the pre-set number of strokes is completed on the bat.
The 17 red and green buttons and knobs on the front of the machine help regulate the ball and bat vertically and horizontally, as per the requirement of the batsman.
“I’ve made only one piece. But there would be 10 pieces of the second, improved version, which would have several new features. It’ll have less sound, a new colour combination, and it’ll be almost fully covered. Eight of the 10 pieces have already been booked by dealers from across the country, and they haven’t even seen it,” he disclosed.
“The second version of the machines will be ready for despatch by the end of the next month. Each one will be tested for 20-30 hours to ensure smooth working, and it would cost between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 1.75 lakh.” It took Prashant about 10 months to develop the first machine and kept the project so close to his chest that he didn’t even tell his father about it, until it was completed late last month.
His father, sitting at the shop, simply smiles as Prashant spells out the reasons for keeping it under wraps.
“It involved a huge amount of money. Also, I was sceptical that it might not be a success. I started in an upbeat mood, and halfway through it we thought we are going nowhere. But we continued to work on it,” he revealed.
Prashant initially started a garment factory as he wanted to “something different”. But it didn’t work out.
"I was thinking about this machine for five- six years and when I started work on it, it was more for the joy of doing something different than for commercial reasons,” he outlined.
“After the success of this machine, I am confident I can do... well, effectively anything. Without doubt it’s the best thing that I’ve done in my life. I’m now applying for a patent.”
The machine is fully indigenous, except for a few imported parts. “I imported only two parts from Germany because I didn’t want to compromise on quality,” says Prashant, who along with his father also owns and manages Johnson Cricket Club.