What to consider when buying a cricket bat
When purchasing a new cricket bat you should take into account many design elements. In order to avoid disappointment, it’s better to swat upon aspects of a cricket bat’s specification before deciding which bat is going to get you to the top of your team’s batting averages!
Do you need your bat to be pre-conditioned or covered with an anti-scuff protector? If you’re not sure then read on!
Pre-conditioned cricket bats
The majority of manufacturers have developed a range of pre-conditioned or pre-prepared cricket bats, which drastically reduce the bat preparation time for the customer.
However, although some cricket bats may claim to be ‘match-ready’, we strongly advise that you carry out the usual knocking in process and practice with some slow deliveries with an old ball before you go full blast on a matchday – it is still the user’s responsibility to ensure that the bat is fully prepared for game time. Beware: ‘ready to play’ does not mean invincible! Anti-scuff protected or covered bats
Most cricket specialists recommend fitting a clear 'anti-scuff' sheet to the blade to help minimize the effects of minor knocks. Fitting a protective cover over the middle of the cricket bat will not hinder performance but it may help to keep your bat fit for purpose – for longer. As well as offering binding qualities to small cracks, a protective sheet also safeguards the blade from additional moisture being absorbed into the bat.
Most professional-quality cricket bats offer a natural, uncovered, traditional finish. But please be wary that some cricket bats made from poor quality willow may be bleached to artificially imitate the colour of high-quality willow. Always be sure of the type of bat and the specification you are purchasing.
Number of Grains on the Bat
Please note that this should only be considered as a rough guideline as there are always exceptions, but, generally, a cricket bat with between 6 and 12 grains tends to be made from high quality willow. Cricket bats with only six grains, for example, are likely to be softer, which will lengthen both the knocking-in period and the time it takes for the bat to reach optimum performance.
English willow cricket bat vary in standard. Grade 1+ or Grade A is the highest quality of English willow, typically used by international stars but increasingly available through limited edition bats for public consumption. Knots, blemishes and markings should be minimal, while the grains will be straight, even and of a healthy number for a bat. To put it simply, this is a Test match standard cricket bat.
You then descend in quality to Grade 1 (which is still of the highest quality), Grade 2 (B), Grade 3 (C) and Grade 4. With every step down there will be more discolouration and markings, and the grains will be irregular, wobbly and plentiful. G4 cricket bats are likely to be bleached, non-oil and fixed with an anti-scuff sheet as standard.
A rough indicator would be:
G1+: Test match standard G1: Professional standard G2: Top club standard G3: Lower-league standard G4: Beginner standard
But regardless of your current level, you may want the best standard of cricket bat on the market to help you get good value for your cover drives!
Size, Shape & Pick-up
Now this boils down to personal preference. In recent years batting manufacturers have responded to the requirements of the modern game by producing a range of bats that have a thick edge and large bow, which produce maximum power without compromising on a light pick-up.
If you are a strong, front-foot driver of a ball then you could consider getting a cricket bat with a low sweet spot. However, if you score a lot of your runs aerially, you may want a higher sweet spot position.
It’s always worth picking up a bat (with gloves) and imitating your usual pick-up routine before committing to purchase. Is it light or weighty? Does it feel bottom-heavy with a low sweet spot? If the bat is extremely difficult to hold with one hand stretched out in front of you then it is probably too heavy.
If you’re an experienced cricketer then you will know whether a light or heavy bat is right for you. Even if you opt for a heavy bat, you are still likely to desire a comparatively light pick-up for that particular weight. If you are new to the game then we recommend using a bat with a lighter pick-up, so that you can play back-foot shots and front-foot shot with equal ease. For example, the cut or pull shot (back-foot, square of the wicket) is difficult to play with a heavy bat.
Don’t just take into your account your physical strength, but also your strengths as a cricketer.
The toe is the weakest part of the bat so it’s best to protect it as much as possible by applying a toe guard. If the bat is struck with a “Yorker” – a delivery that attacks the very bottom of the batsman’s blade – then it is likely to cause damage, but a toe guard could help to minimise the risk of the wood splitting. Toe guards also help to reduce the shock of a batsman tapping his bat on the ground and decreases the amount of moisture that will seep through the toe of the bat in damp conditions.
Handle – short or long?
Most senior batsmen will opt for a short handle to allow for greater control of your blade, but if you are above 6 foot 2 inches then a long handle bat is a good option – although, again, it comes down to personal choice. Sizes of junior cricket bats range from size 1 (smallest) to size 6 (largest) with “Harrow” being the intermediary size between size 6 and adult short-hand.
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