In a game of Cricket, whether your main job on the side is to bat, bowl, or keep wickets you’re going to need a Cricket Bat.The bat consists of two parts, a handle and a blade. The bat overall shall not be more than 38 inches/96.5cm in length. The blade of the bat shall be made solely of wood and shall not exceed 41⁄4 in/10.8cm at the widest part.
One end of the handle is inserted into a recess in the blade as a means of joining the handle and the blade. The part of the handle that is then wholly outside the blade is defined to be the upper portion of the handle. It is a straight shaft for holding the bat. The remainder of the handle is its lower portion used purely for joining the blade and the handle together. The handle is to be made principally of cane and/or wood, glued where necessary and bound with twine along the upper portion. The upper portion may be covered with materials solely to provide a surface suitable for gripping. Such covering is an addition and is not part of the bat.
Cricket bats are made from Willow. This wood has the characteristics of being hard wearing, relatively light, and easy to sand and carve into shape. The willow used in Cricket bat manufacture hails from two main areas i.e., England and Kashmir. The former is the traditional home of bat manufacture and the willow from England is often given a high star rating. All International & First class Players are using only English Willow Bats as these bats provide maximum punch and impact to the ball.
No two bats will feel exactly the same in your hands, even if they are of the same weight and handle length. Each piece of wood used in bat manufacture is unique. The lighter the bat, the quicker you should be able to maneuver it in the air. On the other hand, the heavier a bat, the more impact it may have on the Cricket ball. Most hard-hitting, powerful batsmen tend to use heavy bats.
The most important aspect of English Willow bats is its pick up and balance. How a bat feels in your hands when lifting it off the ground is known as the “pick up of the bat”. Generally, international batsmen prefer bats to have a lighter pick up but still be weighty enough to give the ball a frightful tonk.
You need to consider three important points when making your English Willow bat selection:
1. The weight of the bat - The weight can vary from just over 1000 grams to 1400 grams. It may not sound like much of a difference.
2. Length of the bat handle - Bat manufacturers offer 2 types of handle sizes i.e., Short and Long. Which type you go for depends upon your grip on the bat and the size of your hands. If you have great big hands and space them out on the handle when gripping it, you need a long handle. If you have dainty little paws and have relatively little room on the handle, a short handle may be for you. Have a look both sizes & you’ll soon feel which one is right for you.
3. Size of the Bat – Cricket Bats comes in various sizes ranging from 1 to Full Size. Full-sized Cricket bats are too big for junior and for short players. You can select your bat size based on your height and age. For younger children, bats sizes start from Size 1 and go up to Size 6. Special size for youth also exists and referred as “Harrow Size” which is just a touch smaller than full size.
Cricket ball is a very hard object, particularly when propelled at around 150 Kmph. English Willow bats have to go through a process of preparation before they are ready to be hit at high speed by a Cricket ball. Proper bat preparation includes:
Oiling with linseed oil - The oil protects the wood. You should apply three coats of oil to the front of the bat, leaving it to dry properly each time you apply fresh oil.
Hitting the bat with force - You have to get the wood used to the impact of a Cricket ball. Therefore you should spend several hours hitting it with a bat mallet. This process is called “Knocking In” and is extremely essential, otherwise, you’ll find the bat cracks or shatters when you finally use it in a match. Knock the bat in gently at first and then gradually build up the force that you use.
Sometimes you’ll see that a manufacturer sells a bat as ready to play - This means that a machine has been used to knock the bat in and that a plastic protective facing has been fitted to the front of the bat. Generally, these bats must also undergo knocking in, and particularly along the edges.
Toe Guards - This is a piece of rubber or plastic fitted over the bottom called the Toe of the bat. Some new bats have “Toe Guard” fitted. The idea is to prevent cracking at the toe of the bat, which is quite common. If your bat doesn’t have a toe guard consider getting one fitted.