It's massive, it's different, it's controversial.

It's a 'half brick on a stick' according to Stuart Law.

It is, of course, the much talked-about Mongoose.

Obviously, the first thing that strikes you when you see it is the total other-worldliness of its appearance. It looks like no other bat on the planet, with its short blade and impossibly chunky edges below an elongated slender handle.

But the second thing to strike you is the quality. This is not a novelty, this is not a toy. The Mongoose is fashioned from top-quality willow and is made to the highest of standards. It looks weird, but weirdly beautiful.

And the controversy is a nonsense, really. The MCC waved it through, and quite right too. Unlike the laminated bats and carbon-fibre handles and who knows what else that have emerged and been outlawed, the Mongoose with its all-natural materials clearly contains an element of give and take.

Yes, you can hit the ball a heck of a long way off the toe. But good luck fending off a bouncer.

The key, of course, is in the balance. In every sense: balance of the bat itself, and balance between what you gain and what you lose.

The pick-up of the bat is remarkably good. Really, remarkably good. I scoffed at the idea that it would pick up like a normal bat, but out 2lb 10oz review model certainly felt no heavier in the backlift than my normal 2lb 9oz bat.

But here's where the problems start. Because the downswing does feel different. Did to me anyway. The added momentum that comes from the huge mass of wood in the hitting area and the whippy cane handle makes the ball go a long way, but it makes controlling shots far tougher.

This is a bat designed to help all batsmen turn fours into sixes, but you have to be a bloody good player to use one.

I, alas, am not. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised to see the ball whizzing past the bowler off the toe of the bat a couple of times. But the number of orthodox drives and blocks that went spooning up in the air as the bat got away from me was infuriating.

Again, supreme ability, patient practice or both may remedy this problem. But I'd be reluctant to spend too long grooving my game with a Mongoose lest I created problems when I tried to use a proper bat again.

Because make no mistake, unless you're ferociously talented or supremely fearless, you won't want to face much other than gentle half-volleys with this in your hand.

Bats have become attacking weapons in recent times, but they also have a defensive role to play. For the last reckless overs of a Twenty20, when that second consideration is of almost nominal imporance, the Mongoose may well serve a purpose.

But I fear that's the extent of it. And for the average club cricketer, for whom T20 is generally nothing more than a bit of midweek fun, I just don't see a market for this at the thick end of £200.

Ultimately, the bat fails for one simple reason: it's supposed to help any player hit the ball further, but only those with least need for such assistance will be able to do so with any sort of consistency.

For the average amateur, the nagging suspicion is that overall this will weaken rather than strengthen your game.

But all is not lost. While the brash, outrageously different and undeniably innovative and clever MMi3 has drawn plenty of attention and enormous publicity to a new brand with a growing collection of professionals on its books, Mongoose's other bat - the CoR3 - may ultimately prove to be a genuine step forward in cricket bat manufacture and design.

Because Mongoose's other big design leap is burying the splice in the handle itself rather than the blade of the bat. This also increases the hitting area of the blade and allows more wood in the crucial areas.

And the CoR3 still has this technology but in a far more conventional looking piece of willow. At just an inch shorter than a standard blade, it's far more versatile and thus a far better investment. It's a bat for any type of cricket and has already been used in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20. It may not catch the eye like its fatter, louder, showier brother, but looks to have a far brighter future than its spectacular, powerful, boundary-bothering but, ultimately, flawed stablemate.

Both the MMi3 and CoR3 are available from www.mongoosecricket.com with prices starting from £149.

Dave Tickner