Run Reaper bat used by Sunil Gavaskar in 1979, sold for £8000 at Knights.

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Illegal means such as drugs are one thing, but fair means could involve the design of gear used – and still prove controversial.

In 1979 cricketer Sunil Manohar Gavaskar (Bombay, Somerset and India 1966-87) was playing for India in the second Test match against England at Lords.

His attempt for a ‘marginal gain’, as made famous years later by David Brailsford in the world of cycling, came via a Run Reaper handmade by Duncan Fearnley. This prototype bat had 11 holes drilled right through it to make it lighter but the authorities claimed it was damaging the ball when in contact with the bat.

It was tested by several cricketers before it was subsequently banned by the TCCB and the MCC following its use by Gavaskar (who made 42 and 59 with the bat during the Test, which was drawn).

The bat was previously sold by John Goodwin Auctioneers in 2019 on behalf of Fearnley and formed part of his private bat collection, making a low-estimate £2000.

It came back to auction at Knights (20% buyer’s premium) of Norwich on March 22 with a guide of £300-500 and a letter of authenticity from Fearnley. It was previously used in a bat display which involved the attachment of the bat and caused some damage. However, it proved a hit at £8000 hammer.

Go into combat

Another controversial bat that caused a stir was sold in that same John Goodwin auction five years ago: the Combat, used by Dennis Lillee in the first test of the 1979-80 Ashes series between Australia and England held at the WACA ground in Perth, December 1979. Lillee had been persuaded by a friend that an aluminium bat, inspired by baseball, was a great idea.

That Combat sold for £5200 back in 2019.