General Cricket Bat Information
Most Cricket bats are made
from Salix Caerulea or Alba Var English willow, which is by nature a soft fibrous timber which possesses the perfect characteristics, namely balance, power and durability to perform in a Cricketing environment. The qualities of English willow are enhanced during production through the drying and pressing of the timber.
All Cricket bats will sustain wear and tear during use, this is perfectly natural, and with
collision speeds over 100 mph, it is easy to see why. Normal wear and tear expected from a cricket bat blade is surface cracking to the face and edges and discolouration of the blade, and in these cases the performance of the bat won't be affected. Damage on the other hand can occur due to misuse, mis timed strokes, incorrect storage, lack of maintenance, use against sub standard cricket balls and use in wet conditions. If damage appears on the bat, it should be referred immediately for a repair.
To make sure that you gain the most from your new Cricket bat it is essential that it is prepared (knocked in) and maintained in the correct manner. Once the bat has been knocked in it is imperative that you should maintain your bat as follows;
Store in a moderate constant temperature.
Try to avoid wet conditions.
Try to avoid use against cheap sub standard balls.
Try not to drive Yorkers.
Don't over oil the bat.
Try to avoid excessive mis timed shots.
We strongly recommend that bats are booked in for end of season work. This can include all levels of repair, oiling, re-gripping, toe guard fitting and anti scuff sheet fitting, and is proven that it will help prolong the life of your bat.
This information has been put together to give you an insight into Cricket bat willow grading, and why some bats cost more than others. All bats have different characteristics from balance and pick up to the width of the grain. As a rule of thumb, the softer (narrow grain) willow has excellent performance qualities but shorter lifespan, whereas the harder (broader grain) willow tends to last longer but takes time before you get optimum performance from it. A good compromise between the two would be a blade with about 8-12 grains.
Very best Grade 1+ willow - This is the best willow that money can buy. The blade is unbleached with 8-12 straight grains and is blemish free to a large extent. The price of one of these bats would be over £250 for a full sized blade and over £120 for a junior blade.
Grade 1 willow - High quality unbleached English willow. As above but with a slightly broader grain and sometimes a slight red edge. The price of one of these bats would be between £200 and £250 for a full sized blade and £100-£120 for a junior blade.
Grade 2 willow - Unbleached English willow with some minor blemishes, red wood on the edge and a slight irregular grain. The price of one of these bats would be between £150 and £200 for a full sized blade and around £80-£100 for a junior blade.
Grade 3 willow - Some of these bats will be bleached English willow to cover up a more irregular grain and more blemishes. The price of one of these bats would be between £100 and £150 for a full sized blade and £60-£80 for a junior blade.
Grade 4 willow - This will be bleached English willow which is often covered up with a protective facing and sold as "non oil". The price of one of these bats would be between £60 and £100 for a full sized blade and £45-£60 for a junior blade.
Kashmir willow - Found in cricket sets and sub £40 junior bats. Kashmir willow is harder and dryer by nature than English willow, so doesn't perform as well or last as long. This bat is ideal as a starter bat for use against a softer safety ball (Incrediballs, Wonderballs, Windballs e.t.c)
Knocking in your Cricket bat is an essential part of its preparation. Even if you have purchased a "pre knocked in" bat, further knocking is always required. Below is a step by step guide to knocking in.
1. Apply Raw linseed oil to the face, edges and back of the bat evenly, 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil is the correct amount. Whilst oiling take care not to oil the splice (where the handle fits into the blade), handle or labelled areas, also take great care not to over oil the bat as this will deaden the fibres of the timber and affect performance.
2. Leave the bat horizontal and face up to dry for 24 hours.
3. If you are planning to use the bat in its natural state, without an anti scuff sheet, then repeat steps 1 and 2 twice more. If you are planning to have a protective anti scuff sheet fitted then one initial coat of oil is sufficient.
4. Wipe off any excess oil and knock in your bat with a specialist bat mallet for approximately 4 hours. The edges and toe of the blade require particular attention using glancing blows off the face to harden and round these areas. Particular care and attention should be made not to hit the edges, toe or back of the bat directly as this will cause damage. The knocking in should be performed with gradual increasing force, but never too hard to cause damage.
5. Fibre tape is applied to the edges of the bat and an Anti scuff sheet is fitted over the top if required. We strongly recommend this procedure.
6. Test the blade using a good quality old ball during a light net session or having "throw downs". If seam marks and indentations occur further knocking in is required.
7. Go out and enjoy your new bat!