Cricket is a ball and bat game played by two teams of 11 players each. Each team takes turns batting and playing infield. In cricket, the batter is a batsman and the pitcher is a bowler. The bowler tries to knock down the bail of the wicket. A batsman tries to prevent the bowler from hitting the wicket by hitting the ball with the cricket bat. You can probably tell by now how important a cricket bat is as equipment to this sport.
The cricket bat is a curved wooden board attached to a wooden handle. The handle is usually covered with a rubber grip. New cricket bats usually require knocking in so they could strike a hard new cricket ball without causing any damage to the bat.
If you’re looking for high-quality cricket bats then look no further. If you’re an avid cricket player you would know the importance of choosing the right cricket bat for the sport and the importance of maintaining your cricket bat. Choosing the right cricket bat can be a tedious task. From choosing the type of wood, size, shape, toe guard, and handle. All while staying on a certain budget could be confusing to some. Because cricket bats can be an expensive investment it’s important to choose wisely which brings us to our second point.
How to choose the right kind of cricket bat?
The majority of cricket bats are made of two types of wood: English willow and Kashmir willow. One of the main aesthetic differences between the two types of woods is their color. English willow is a shade lighter than the Kashmir willow and is the reason why they shine more than the Kashmir willow. Another main aesthetic different is that the grain texture is more visible and pronounced in the English willow. Grains, in bats, are thin black or brown lines found on the surface of the bat. The orientation of fibers in Kashmir willows are mostly horizontal while English willows are mostly vertical. This is one of the reasons that the grains of Kashmir willow are less visible. Originally cricket bats were made from English willow wood as they were lighter, tougher, and more shock resistant to ball impact. The type of willow grown in Kashmir is identical to English willow and the only difference is that the willow is not grown in England. However, Kashmir willow tends to be slightly heavier the reason for this being that Kashmir willow has a higher density and moisture.
English willow is of a higher quality and price. If you are someone who is just starting out it is recommended that you start out with a high-quality Kashmir willow as the difference would be almost unnoticeable and later upgrading to English willow.
When purchasing a new cricket bat, you might notice different grades given to each product’s wood. The grade numbers might be confusing to some. Here’s what they mean. 1+ English Willow is the best willow that money can buy. The blade is unbleached and usually has 8 to 12 blemish free straight grains. The price of one of these bats can be in exceed $1000 for a full-sized blade. It is rare that bats for new players are produced using Grade 1+ Willow. It’s also referred to as player’s grade wood. Grade 1 English Willow is a high quality unbleached English willow but with a slightly broader grain and sometimes a slight red edge. It can range from 7-10 straight grains on the blade’s surface. Grade 2 English Willow is nonbleached English willow with some minor blemishes, red wood on the edges and a slight irregular grain. Can be 6 to 10 grains. Grade 3 Willow might be bleached to cover the irregular grain and blemishes.Grade 4 Willow will be more than often bleached English willow which is often covered up with a protective facing and sold as “non-oil” bat.
- Choosing the right size for you
Cricket bats come in a variety of sizes. If you are a smaller player, you would need a small bat as opposed to a larger bat which would be hard to handle. The maximum width of a cricket bat should be 4.25 inches, and the maximum length should be 38 inches. To give you a clue, players ranging from 5’3” to 5’5” usually require a size 6 bat. While the size (H) for harrow fits people ranging from 5’6″ to 5’8”. Meanwhile, people over 6’ use a (LH) or (LB) size bat. The (LH) stands for long handle and (LB) stands for long blade. When shopping for a cricket bat you might notice these letters and each one stands for a different size and meaning. For example, (SH) stands for short handle and is for people from 5’9” to 6’. (SM) stands for small men’s and is for people ranging from 5’7” to 5’9” in height. However, before purchasing a cricket bat, it is recommended to look at a size chart to find the best fit.
- Type of ball you would be playing with
The type of ball you’d be playing with also factors in what type of bat you would be choosing. Cricket could be played with a foam, leather, tennis or rubber balls. Rubber and leather balls are quite heavy and need a thicker bat. Tennis and foam balls however are lightweight and do not require a heavy bat. The official cricket ball weighs 163 grams. Its core is made of cork which is wrapped with several layers of yarn. The outer casing is made of leather, which is then coated with lacquer which makes them heavier and harder than baseballs. Keep that in mind when purchasing and your new cricket bat.
- Bat weight
The weight of the cricket bat plays an important key role in the actual usage of the bat during the game. Heavy bats are more durable and have a higher impact on the ball. However, they might be hard to handle for some players. Which in turn decreases the player’s control of the bat or affect the speed in which the player swings their bat to hit the ball. On the other hand, lightweight bats are quite easy to handle, need less strength and has more speed, however, they deteriorate quite easily and aren’t as powerful as the heavy counterpart. Depending on the player’s strength one should pick the bat where they have more control and is the right weight because it plays a huge role in the player’s performance.
- Handle type
Another quite important factor in choosing the right cricket bat is the handle. It is the part that comes into contact with the player and needs to be comfortable and professionally made to avoid injury. You would want a comfortable yet sturdy grip. The handle should absorb the shock from the ball so you don’t feel it in your hands. There are two types of handles: Oval, round and semi-oval. Oval handles to aid the control of the top hand and it twists less on impact therefore less energy is lost. While round handles allow the bottom hand to play for better aerial shots. Loose rule players that attack mainly with horizontal bat shots tend to prefer a round handle as it allows for an easier roll of the wrist over the ball. The semi-oval handle is a crossover between both shapes.
Maintenance of the cricket bat
After purchasing the cricket bat, you might want to look into how to maintain it and keep it in good shape. As mentioned before, one must knock in new cricket bats before using it. In order to knock in the cricket bat, one must use a ball or wooden cricket bat mallet because it provides more control during the process. Start off by hitting the mallet against the blade firmly with increased pressure after an hour. After 2 hours the mallet could be hit hard against the blade of the bat. During the knocking in process, the bat should be sandpapered then oiled twice, once after two hours and the other after 5 hours. In order to sandpaper the blade, 180 to 200 grit sandpaper should be used. Then pour approximately a coin’s size of oil onto the blade and rub it in with your hand or a piece of cloth. Leave the bat lying upward overnight. The most optimum oil to use for knocking in a cricket bat is linseed oil as the properties of the oil tend to lock in the moisture content of the willow and impart a spring-like characteristic to the outer core of wood. Linseed oil softens the bat fibres and then knits them together. This makes them able to withstand being hit by the force of the cricket ball at high speeds. A new coat of linseed oil must be applied every five to six months to ensure that the bat will remain supple. The bat could also be wrapped in bat tape for protection. Bat tape is made of glass fibre and could even be used to secure minor damages that result from regular wear and tear.
One might think applying linseed oil and knocking in the bat is the only form of maintenance required for the bat and once you are done playing, the job is done. But you also have to keep I mind that it’s made out of wood so any form of moisture is any cricket bat’s worst enemy. If the bat comes into contact with it can end up wrapping the wood. The best place to store a bat is one where there it will not be in direct contact with any form of moisture. Keeping the bat away from any source of heat is essential if you do not want the wood to get hampered. It can end up bending the willow and make it unusable.
Now that we’ve covered how to take care of your cricket bat. Here are our suggestions to purchase one.
Best Cricket Bat Choices
Brand: SS Sunridges
Hand orientation: Left & right
Handle type: Short handle
Product Dimensions: 6.35 x 15.24 x86.36 cm; 960 Grams
Material type: Kashmiri Willow
Size: Short handle
Willow: English willow
Weight: 1.2 kilograms
Handle: Sarawak cane handle
Grip: Chevtec grip
Bat weight: 1160-1210g
Colour: May vary
Made of premium quality English willow, the type of wood on this cricket bat is one of the top tiers. Made for professional players, this product is also already knocked in and ready to go saving you multiple hours of preparation for the first play with this bat. It is also very easy to maintain and requires minimal effort every now and then to up keep.
This is a full-size bat with a short handle (SH) size with the English willow being fully nurtured in the UK. This cricket bat also has a huge sweet spot that is balanced and individually shaped to ensure that the right amount of wood is in the right place to give the bat the perfect balance and feel. The bat comes in a royal design along the blade with gold and red colored designs and a white grip handle.
Skill level: Professional
Material: English Willow
This full-sized bat is made of premium English willow. Fit for players 6’ and above this bat is weighted and heavy. Heavy cricket bats can generate much more power than a lighter one resulting in a powerful stroke to the cricket ball when hit. This bat also has a massive sweet spot catered to and individually shaped to ensure the right balance to every manufactured bat. It also has a slight bow which is optimum for hitting the ball with minimal effort and maximizes the potential power of the shot. The technology and craftsmanship of production produced a bat with a wide curvature on its face and a slightly raised belly, providing a maximum rebound system for power, confidence and execution. The flat wide face also provides accuracy and an even distribution along the surface of the bat. The round handle with a Spartan Wave grip made out of 9-piece Cane and rubber, enables for the bottom hand to play for better aerial shots.
Manufacturer: Spartan Sporting Goods Pty Ltd
Item display length: 34 inches
Material type: English willow
Product Dimensions: 35 x 5.5 x 4.3 cm; 1.5 Kilograms
On the lower end of the price range of cricket bats, this bat delivers quality for money. Made out of prime English willow that is made in England, this cricket bat has a premium feel. This cricket bat is the ultimate value for money. The high-quality traditional design of the blade ensures a powerful strike when it hits the cricket ball. The pro-lite grip also provides a sturdy yet comfortable grip to the bat that absorbs shocks when being hit with the ball. The variety of choices when it comes to size is also available when buying this bat.
Brand: Gunn & Moore
Manufacturer: Gunn & Moore
Hand orientation: Ambidextrous
Material type: English willow
Package Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.1 x 0.06 cm; 992g