What are Grades?
How to choose a bat?
How to take care of the bat?
What weight should I go for?
The more the grains the better?
What's the right size for me?
How to prepare the bat?
Each cleft (uncut piece of willow) is weighed, its density checked, and graded accordingly by experts. Thin grains are expected to perform better right from the start but also tend to be more fragile and are prone to breakage; wider grains however are stronger & can perform just as good but generally take longer to reach peak performance. The width of the grain depends entirely on the pace at which the tree has grown (each grain represents one year’s growth). Due to increasing demand, there are generally wider (& fewer) grains as willow is made to reach maturity quickly nowadays. Another attribute of a willow cleft is the proportion of ‘white’ & ‘red’ wood, with ‘white’ representing the more responsive part of the cleft and ‘red’ representing durability; so, a mixture of both is a good way to go about it. Being a natural product, there are bound to be some knots or blemishes on the bat. Visual appearance including butterfly stain(s), blemishes or knots, and the straightness of the grains are the only main differences in the various grades. Generally the more colour in the blade the lower the grade, there is however negligible difference in the playing ability. Butterfly stains too, despite not “looking clean and white”, make very good bats with superior strength and playing ability. To sum up, it all depends on the player’s preferences and the skill of the bat maker. Our bat makers evaluate every cleft carefully to figure out the respective model to be produced from it.
A bat should not be chosen on visual appearance but rather the pick-up & “feel”.
Moisture content and the density of the wood are the two major factors affecting the weight of a bat. The density varies from tree to tree and also the soil type, sunlight, amount of water and other physical & weather based factors. The blades are dried appropriately to get the correct moisture content. The way in which a bat is made has a significant impact on the weight. A bat can weigh significantly more on the scale when measured, but if made a certain way with the weight distributed differently it could feel really light. The pick-up and feel of the bat should be given more importance rather than any specific weight.
Bats come in a range of sizes, most common are children's sizes 0 to 6, youth size Harrow, and adult sizes. SH (Short Handle) is the most common adult size, whilst long handle and long blade options are also available. Children's sizes increase in length and width as the size increases. Although most adult bats will be the maximum width permitted (4.25 inches), no generally available cricket bat is the maximum length of 38 inches. Indeed very few exceed 35-36 inches. Choosing the correct cricket bat size is of paramount importance as it heavily impacts the way you play, your freedom of movement and your range of shots. A size chart is given below for reference.
All new cricket bats require some extent of knocking in. ‘Knocking in’ is a very integral part of the preparations (minimum 6 hours recommended) during which bats are repeatedly struck, using either a wooden mallet or an old/used ball. It not only prevents the bat from cracking but also improves the stroke of the bat thus resulting in a better ping. Avoid striking the edges or toe directly at right angles to the blade as this would be likely to cause damage to the bat.
Treat the bat using raw linseed oil to maintain moisture levels within the blade & to reduce the chances of cracking & splitting. Light coats should be applied to the face, edge, and back of the blade avoiding any stickers/lables. Allow the bat to dry for about 24 hours and remove any excess oil that has not been absorbed. Reapply as per requirement. Each coat should be allowed to dry in a slightly elevated horizontal position from handle down before the next light coat is applied. Continue to lightly oil the exposed timber every 10-12 weeks or so.
After initial knocking & oiling, take the bat to a practice/net session. Hit the ball gently at first; if marks occur, stop use immediately & go back to the knocking phase. If no marks or dents are visible after that, gradually increase the force of the ball speed & hitting power. Continue to look for any dents or marks. By the end of the whole process, you should be hitting the ball firmly without the bat showing indentations. Your bat is now match ready!
It is also advised to use either fibre glass tape, extratec or a quality anti-scuff sheet to help protect the face and edges of the bat for extra durability.