BAT PREPARATION – THE BASICS
Are you new to the game or have just bought a new cricket bat? If so, there are a few things you should know about cricket bat care. By following some of the basic guidelines below, you have a better chance of keeping your cricket bat in tip-top shape for longer.
A cricket bat is either made from English Willow or Kashmir Willow which in its natural state are soft fibrous reeds. As such it requires preparation before it can be used to strike a cricket ball.
All bats are pressed during production, this pressing gives a degree of conditioning and also enhances the ‘drive’ (or power) of the bat. Each manufacturer will custom press each bat which means that bat makers will assess each cleft and determine how much pressure must be used to optimise drive and durability for that particular piece of willow
Oiling is essential for cricket bats. It stops the willow from drying out and greatly reduces the risk of cracking. When first purchased, natural-faced bats should be lightly sanded with 150 grit sandpaper to remove polish and then lightly oiled (10 cent coin worth of oil) with cricket bat oil or linseed oil all over the face and the toe using a soft rag or your finger (do not apply oil to the splice as it can weaken the glue).
When you knock-in a cricket bat, you compress the fibres of the willow and knit them together. This gives the bat the strength it needs to withstand the impact of a cricket ball.
Every cricket bat needs to be “Knocked-In”. Some cricket bats claim to be “pre-prepared” in the factory, but this does not mean that the bat is ready for use. A pre-prepared bat will have been oiled, pressed, and lightly knocked-in by hand, but it will still need a minimum of 2-hours knocking-in before it can be used. Bats that are not pre-prepared will need even longer (around 5 to 6 hours).
The more thorough the knocking-in process, the less chance there is of your bat breaking.
The 'knocking in' process should be undertaken carefully. Knocking using a special bat mallet or an old, quality cricket produces best results but may require lots of time and patience. The bat should be repeatedly struck (with gradually increasing force) in all areas where one would normally expect to hit the ball, this conditioning must be performed with patience.
Particular attention should be given to the edges, although the edges or toe should not be struck directly at right-angles to the blade as this would be likely to cause damage.
This stage should take in the region of six hours, although it may vary as every bat is different.
Alternatively you have the option of applying a protective sheet which will help guard against general wear and tear. After one season the protective sheet should be removed (slowly across the grain) and lightly sanded and oiled. A new protective cover can be re-applied once the bat has dried out sufficiently.
If you have bought a bat with protective sheet, less oiling is required, as these bats are able to retain their moisture.
If you are not sure about how much oil to apply, simply ask one of our experienced staff members or bring your bat into one of our stores for some professional assistance.
For those bats that don’t have Toe Protection already fitted, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to support the longevity of your bat & greatly reduce the chance of toe damage. Toe Goo or Hard Toe is the recommended form of protection.
OUR COMPLIMENTARY BAT PREPARATION SERVICE
All English Willow bat purchases from Highmark Cricket includes complimentary basic bat preparation service:
- Oiling: We apply 2 coats of oil. We aim to “rest” the bat 24 hours after each coat is applied.
- Knocking-in: Roll the edges and toes by hand and do machine knocking (15,000+ knocks) on the uncovered part of the face of the bat.
Ideally, bat preparation requires 2-3 days to allow for 2 coats of oiling. If the bat is required in less than 2 days, we will only apply 1 coat of oil.
OPTIONAL BAT PREPARATION SERVICE
We highly recommend the following and for a small fee, we can provide these:
- Protective Sheet: we supply or apply protective/anti-scuff sheet on the bat.
- Toe Protection: if the bat does not come with a factory fitted toe guard.
GETTING THE BAT GAME READY
The steps included in Bat Preparation section are just the beginning. To have your bat game ready, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to complete the following steps:
- Pre-Playing: The next step is to graduate to the use of the bat to hit short catches with an old, quality cricket ball. However, if the seam marks the blade, it is necessary to return do more knocking-in for further conditioning. This stage should be performed for at least another hour.
- Playing In: Once these steps have been taken, the bat should be ready for use in the nets against an old soft cricket ball. Ideally play in a defensive manner and avoid genuine fast bowling. If the seam of the ball marks the face of the bat resume the ‘knocking-in’ process.
ON GOING MAINTENANCE
- Cricket bats have varying life spans. To get the most out of your cricket bat it should be correctly knocked-in and regularly oiled.
- If you have a covered bat, the cover should be removed during the off-season once a year and oiled. Removing the cover should be done slowly and across the grain then sanded with a light sandpaper. If your bat has a natural face, it should be oiled every month to maintain high performance levels.
- Small cracks on the face of a cricket bat are considered natural wear and tear. With a little care they should not turn into major problems. Small cracks can be sanded with fine sandpaper. You should sand with the grain, not against it, and then apply a protective facing or fibreglass tape over the crack.
- Prepare the bat carefully
- Store the bat in off-season in a cool dry atmosphere away from excessive heat or damp.
- Re-oil the bat after any prolonged period of non-use: it’s particularly important to remember to do this prior to starting the pre-season.
- Inspect the bat regularly for damage in play and repair promptly.
- Expose to extremes of temperature
- Have prolonged spells in Car Boots/Trunks/Interiors
- Over-oil. It is more dangerous to over-oil than to under-oil. Over-oiling adds weight, spoils driving power and may cause rot.
- Stand the bat in oil.
- Allow the bat to become damp.
- Misuse or treat the bat carelessly off the pitch, for example at nets, or in changing rooms.
- Use cheap hard balls. These will damage the bat.
- Continue to play with a damaged bat; this will aggravate the damage to a point where the bat may be beyond repair.