Bat Size Guide
Cricketers and all top coaches agree with suppliers and manufacturers that choosing the correct size bat is vital for the proper technical development of young cricketers. It is important that the bat is not too long and more importantly not too heavy to hinder correct stroke play and good technique. Junior bats are scaled down in size and weight to meet this important requirement. However, the above table is only a general guide and the most important factor is that the bat must be comfortable in the hands of the batsman, young or old, because each batter will have their own individual needs.
Bat choice and bat preparation
In our opinion, ALL bats should be 'knocked-in' prior to use. We recommend even pre-knocked-in bats are given at least a further 2 hours preparation, using either a specialist bat mallet or an old, soft leather ball in a sock.
Bats that are not 'knocked-in' by the manufacturer require between 4-6 hours preparation prior to use , although this may vary, as every bat is different. The bat manufacturers own web site usually provides excellent advice on this.
Remember you cannot over 'knock-in' a new bat (or an old one). Most bats performance improves during the 'knocking-in' process.
We also recommend that new bats are not used against cheap, hard, imported leather cricket balls as these could damage your newly purchased bat. The best preparation is facing throw downs with softer, older balls and practice balls on a bowling machine. Please treat your new bat with respect because if not your bat will not respect your pocket!
Sleeping with your bat is not recommended immediately after oiling.
It is widely accepted amongst good cricketers and good bat manufacturers that a bat is a tool of the trade, its raw materials are naturally grown and not man made. Many bats originate from clefts grown on the willow plantation at J S Wrights in Chelmsford, England. J S Wrights have a continuing re-generation programme which is the best in the industry. Each year three times as many trees are planted than are cut down. J S Wrights is the reason there is no shortage of English willow in the market today and why there will be no shortage in the future.
There are only six species of willow used for cricket bats, the most suitable variety is salix alba 'caerulea' because it is tough, lightweight and doesn't splinter easily.
A good bat is produced by craftsmen and their aim is to combine excellent hitting power with durability. The combination is not always, if at all easy. Softer pressed bats tend to "go better' but are even more likely to crack. The harder pressed bats last longer but often hitting power is compromised. The bat makers' aim is to strike a balance between the two to make the best all round cricket bat.
About willow grades.
Many branded starter and particularly smaller Junior size bats tend to utilise lower priced Kashmir Willow. This is harder and therefore more resilient but generally gives less ball striking satisfaction and may be heavier. At Baggies our aim is to offer even our smallest cricketers a choice to deisgn their own, made to order cricket bat, hand crafted from only the finest English Willow.
Below is a guide which you may find useful when comparing cricket bats.
Grade 1 plus - G1+ The very best of English willow, often reserved for the manufacturers own Pro Players and utilised in such bats described as Limited Edition, Ultimate, or SPS. Unbleached with straight even grains and minimal marking or discolouration in the face.
Grade 1 - G1 Top quality English Willow. Good straight grain structure and unbleached with minimal marking or discolouration in the face.
Grade 2 - G2 Unbleached English Willow with some irregular grain patterning and some minor blemishes and possible reddening in the blade.
Grade 3 - G3 Usually unbleached English Willow with irregular grain pattern and some marking and discolouration in the blade.
Grade 4 - G4 English Willow usually bleached and often non oil with a covering to the face of the bat.
Bat preparation and maintenance.
Once you have your new, made to order cricket bat we hope that these few tips will help you prepare and look after your new "pride and joy"....enabling runs by the bucketful.
1. Give your new bat a light sanding and a coat of linseed oil (natural face bats only), applied with the fingers, or a soft cloth. Please take care not to oil around the splice, as this loosens the glue and make sure you give the toe a couple of coats, this helps prevent water ingress into the bottom of your bat. Do not over oil, a couple of coats is ample.
A coat of PVA glue on the toe of the bat, after oiling, is a great way to prevent moisture ingress and cracking. Repeat every few weeks as required.
2. Start the knocking in process, which should really involve between 2 and 6 hours total work time before match use (refer to earlier notes). Knocking in is the process of compressing and knitting together the willow fibres to prevent ball damage to the surface of the bat. Use either an old softer cricket ball or preferably a bat mallet to do the job. Concentrate on the face edges, where a genuine 'nick' might make contact with the bat and keep working until they have a rounded and compacted appearance. Never strike the edges or the toe of the bat at right angles as this is likely to cause damage. To prepare the face of the bat lightly tap with the mallet, increasing the force over the knocking in period. Don't worry about indentations on the face of the bat, these will actually help protect your bat.
Use caution, don't rush this process, it's important the whole street knows you have just bought a new bat.
3. Before match play, using an old cricket ball, hit a few close catches and some throw downs in the nets. Using your new bat against bowling machine balls is advisable prior to match use. Once in full use, keep a close look out for any minor damage. Attend to any minor damage as it occurs with wood glue and fibre bat tape. Don't worry about 'crazy cracking' as this is quite normal and will not adversely affect the performance of your bat. However the application of a clear anti-scuff sheet (about £5), will minimise any surface damage
4. Another useful addition for your bat is to fit a Toe Guards (about £6 for a pack of two). These protect against water ingress, friction and the dreaded 'yorker' and in our view will definitely prolong the life of your bat. Always ensure that the toe guard is adhered to the toe of the bat, any sections that become loose will trap moisture between the toe guard and the bat, so must be reglued as required.
5.... and finally enjoy scoring all those runs. When it comes to winter storage, give your bat a clean and a coat of oil and store it face up, laid down flat, best in a cool, dry atmosphere. Please keep it away from radiators and do not store it in the airing cupboard......good luck from all at Baggies!