Just occasionally as a designer you get to work on your dream job: for Spin founder and massive cricket fan Tony Brook the chance to design a new range of cricket bats was one such project
Brook is such a big cricket fan that he even named his studio after one of the game’s key skills – spin bowling. Earlier this year he was put in touch with two ‘cricket mad’ businessmen, Ali Ehsan and Zahid Soorty, by some former clients. Ehsan and Zoorty were planning to launch a new brand of cricket bats named Boom Boom after the nickname of Pakistan star Shahid Afridi.
Cricket, despite its genteel image, has not been immune from the march of branding. In the 60s, bats were typically ink-stamped with the maker’s name and, sometimes, an endorsement from a professional player, such as this Hunts County John Edrich model
Today, Hunts County bats look like this
Former player and bat manufacturer Duncan Fearnley claims to be the first to have introduced a logo to the cricket bat. In the late 60s, Fearnley adopted a device based on cricket’s three stumps, which appeared on the front and back of all its bats. Such a distinctive, highly visible device was aimed primarily at television audiences who could now identify the model being used by their favourite player who was, of course, paid for their endorsement.
In the 70s and 80s Fearnley sponsored many of the game’s leading stars, including Ian Botham, to use bats such as the one above.
This was a period of major design innovation with Gray-Nicolls introducing its famous scoop which had a hollowed out back
And Stuart Surridge’s extra-large Jumbo, employed with somewhat mixed success by yours truly and recently revived in a spirit of 80s nostalgia
Today the typical branding on bats from the major manufacturers is a little more sticker-happy
Boom Boom takes a more minimal but bold approach in keeping with the non-nonsense name. Here, the bats are modelled by (in order) Pakistan stars Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Fawad Alam (Photography: Ruud Baan at Process)
As well as bats, Boom Boom will be producing kit for the Pakistan team with a full range of equipment due out next year.
“There are so many clichés surrounding cricket that need to be given a
wide berth,” says Brook of the job. “Also I’m a huge cricket fan, so there was a certain amount of self-induced pressure to make a decent fist of it.”
There are some venerable brands in cricket but, recently, too many of them have been obscuring what are, in themselves, objects of great intrinsic beauty under all manner of neon, day-glo, metallic stickerage (new word). It’s good to see a newcomer offering a reminder of the value of (relative) restraint.