Cricket is a very technical sport with almost all products having lot of technical details. Cricket bat is the most technical product in game of cricket and is a must product to play cricket. Cricket Bat is fundamental to the game of cricket. Good cricket bats are generally expensive. It is majorly found that large proportion of players, mainly amateurs and children, are playing with the wrong size and/or weight cricket bat to the detriment of their game.
Choosing a perfect cricket bat is more difficult than you think. Almost every bat looks the same which makes it even tougher. Selection of a wrong size/ weight bat will reduce your level of performance.
The following steps will help you to find the best suitable bat for you.
Choose your Bat Willow:
This is one of the most important thing to choose. Cricket bats are carved from willow, which is a naturally fibrous wood. Each cricket bat manufacturer seeks to select the best woods for their products to ensure high standards and overall product quality. The two types of willow used for bat making are English Willow and Kashmir Willow.
English Willow is a soft, fibrous timber which is a preferred choice for the majority of bat manufacturers due to its high performance effect when striking the ball. Regardless of type, willow gets damaged and is prone to breakages over time. The cricket bat can become scarred, bruised and dented due to the nature of the game and the frequent high intense impacts of the ball hitting the cricket bat. On the other hand, Kashmir Willow comes from India. This is largely utilised by cricket bat manufacturers as a substitute for English Willow. The Kashmir willow is regarded as a harder wood and in comparison to English willow and does not have the same performance effect i.e. a player will not experience the same “sweet spot” when striking the ball as in English Willow. Kashmir willow will only be used for lower range and priced cricket bats. It is unlikely that a regular adult player, playing at a reasonable standard would choose to use a Kashmir willow cricket bat.
Some cricket bat manufacturers insert additional carbon fibre into the handle of the cricket bat to make the bat feel lighter in the hands. The insertion of carbon fibre also allows more power to be generated in shots and increases the shock absorption in the handle from high impact balls. Due to recent technological advancements and innovations, this material is can be inserted into the handle of cricket bats to add reinforcement and provide more power in the hitting zone.
Covered vs Uncovered Face:
The uncovered face means that the grains of the cricket bat are visible, whereas the covered face means that the blade of the bat is not immediately visible though you may be able to see the blade through transparent protective coating. Each of the above will appear differently on cricket bats, but most importantly of all, you should note that the bat’s performance will not be hindered. Protective coating such as anti-scuff is applied in order to add maximise protection to the face of the cricket bat. This should prevent additional moisture being absorbed into the wood, as well as to help bind surface cracks together.
Number of Grains:
Number of grains on a cricket bat is something that varies from individual to individual. The number of grains will often differ from bat to bat. A cricket bat between 6 and 12 grains is a good indicator of quality willow. Cricket bats with 6 grains are likely to be slightly softer than 10~12 grains and therefore take longer to knock-in and reach optimal performance initially. However, please note there are some extremely good premium range bats with lower grains.
Willow Grade & Appearance:
Cricket bat prices vary significantly. In all experience, we do feel that cosmetic appearance has little correlation with bat performance. It is felt that thin grain bats are the best performing bats but that is not necessarily the case and they can tend to break more quickly. Whereas wider grained bats can perform just as well although they are slightly harder to start with, after playing in they were stronger pieces of willow.
The number of grains in a bat is a much debated issue (a grain is regarded as a year in the life of a tree) and there was a school of thought that 8 straight grains on the face produced the perfect bat. However, over the years, willow has changed and the ever increasing demand for willow has created a scenario where trees reach maturity more quickly. This means there are fewer/ wider grains, consequently the definition of grading and grains in a bat have evolved over the years. In conclusion, the most important factor when choosing your bat is to ensure that it is the one that feels right for you. In order to maximise your performance it is important to consider what you want from your bat and how you play the game as the game of Cricket is all about timing.
English Willow Bats are divided into following grades:
- Grade 1+ [A]: The most expensive willow and arguably the best looking blade. It is a highest quality of English willow and mainly used for the player’s bats by the manufacturer. These days, it is increasingly being rolled-out to top end bats for the public. The grains are straight and even, the wood unbleached and there should be minimal to no marking or discoloration on the bat face. There may be some red wood evident on the blade and generally there will be at least 6 fairly straight grains visible on the face.
- Grade 1 – G1 [A]: It is a top quality English Willow. Good straight grain structure and unbleached with minimal marking or discoloration in the face.
- Grade 2 – G2 [B]: It is an excellent quality blade but usually more red wood may be visible than on a grade 1 which does not affect the playability of the bat. Similar number of grains to a grade 1 with potentially the odd blemish or butterfly in the grain on the face.
It is an unbleached English Willow with some irregular grain patterns and some blemishes/ coloring across the blade.
- Grade 3 – G3 [C]: The most extensively used grade of blade which offers excellent value for money. A grade 3 blade may have up to half the face in a tint/red wood colour but this does not affect playability. This grade will have around 5 grains on the face that may not be that straight and there is likely to be some specks or butterfly marks on the grains on the face of the bat. It is a usually unbleached English Willow with irregular grain pattern and some marking and discoloration in the blade.
- Grade 4 – G4: It is an English Willow usually bleached and often non-oiled with a covering to the face of the bat. Usually over half of the blade may have a discoloured area but the product playability should not be affected. There are often only 4 grains and there are more butterfly stains and marks on the face of the bat.
- Grade 4 – G5: This grade is produced during production process and is basically similar to a grade 4 but may have more stain in the wood so cosmetically will not look as good.
Shape, Size & Bow of the Bat:
It is often claimed that bats are specifically designed for either front or back foot play. In reality, we all have to play on both front and back foot, so it is therefore best to choose the bat that just feels right for you. As all players differ in the way they play and hit the ball in slightly different areas of the bat. Whilst it is impossible to cater for every impact area if you choose a bat whereby the wood is focused on your normal impact position, then this gives a better chance of finding the bat that will be right for you.
This varies from individual to individual as some players prefer bats with a large bow whereas others don’t. Professional players mainly prefer larger bow with thick edges to better meet the rigors of the modern game. Same is being reflected in the designs available to the general public by the manufacturers these days. The size of the bow can have an impact on the pick-up of the cricket bat and an increased bow can often result in the cricket bat having a heavier pick up. Some bows are higher or lower down the bat depending on batsmen’s hitting style, or to reflect the pitches which you play on. A low bouncing wicket may requires a lower bow compared to the dry climate and bouncy pitches.
You can choose your Bat size as per following Size chart:
|Cricket Bat Size Chart|
|Bat Size||Approx. Age||Height of Batsmen (feet)||Bat Length (inches)||Bat Width (inches)|
|1||4-5||to 4’3″||25 3/4″||3 1/2″|
|2||6-7||4’3″ – 4’6″||27 3/4″||3 1/2″|
|3||8||4’6″ – 4’9″||28 3/4″||3 3/4″|
|4||9-11||4’9″ – 4’11”||29 3/4″||3 3/4″|
|5||10-12||4’11” – 5’2″||30 3/4″||4″|
|6||11-13||5’2″ – 5’6″||31 3/4″||4″|
|Harrow||12-14||5’6″ – 5’9″||32 3/4″||4 1/6″|
|Full SH||15+||5’9″ – 6’2″||33 1/2||4 1/4″|
|Full LH||15+||over 6’2″||34 3/8″||43/4″|
Big edge profile which increases from the shoulders and maximises at the sweet spot, generates supreme balance with an extended sweet spot that covers the entire width of the blade. This varies from individual to individual choice.
Choose you Brand:
There are many brands available in market these days but very few brands make most reliable Cricket bats. Some of the most reliable Cricket bat manufacturers worldwide are SS, SG, Kookaburra, GM, Gray Nicolls, Indian Tigers, BDM etc.
Good Cricket bat is a combination of batsman’s taste and the skill of a bat manufacturer. The bat is made of wood, which is a natural product. There has to be some small knots or spots on the bat. So the bat must always be chosen on the basis of the feel and not looks. A great cricket bat is not going to make you a great batsman but it’s the only tool you have to prove your talent and skills. The correct bat will help you to become as good batsman.
The toe of the bat is not as strong as its middle and is vulnerable to breakages die to less amount of wood there. It can be prevented through fitting a toe guard. Premium range cricket bats comes with a toe guard already fitted. Cricket bat is normally designed to strike the ball 6-8 inches up from the toe, in the centre of the blade. When batsmen faces Yorker deliveries at the toe end, the impact of a moving bat meeting the speed of the ball can be very high, thereby causing the wood to dent or split. As a result it would be advisable to fit a toe guard to reduce the risk of breakage.
This means bat with uncovered face, with the willow not covered by an anti-scruff cover or face tape. Most all top-end bats offer this natural, traditional finish. Some of the lower grades of willow maybe bleached to artificially replicate the colour of high-quality willow.
Pick-Up of Bat:
While choosing your bat, position yourself in your normal stance as you would stand at the crease. Simply pick the cricket bat up as you would as if the bowler was about to deliver the ball. When you pick the cricket bat up, note how the bat feels in your hands, i.e. is it light or heavy? Where is the balance of the bow? Is it a lower middle or a higher middle? More generally can you hold the cricket bat in one hand, when stretched out in front of you?
When trying out cricket bats, it is advisable for you to wear a pair of batting gloves. That way you gain a reliable insight into how the cricket bat actually feels in your hands. It is also advisable for you to practice some shots without a ball, to see if you can use the bat effectively.
Weight of Bat:
This is the essential part of buying a bat and there is lot of discussion these days about heavier vs lighter bats. The heavier bats are durable and provide more power to the shots. A lighter bat will allow you to play all the shots with faster bat speed and better control.
If you choose a lighter bat then you will most likely have to compromise slightly on the thickness of the profile and edge profile but this should not be a problem. We strongly believe that, in order to get the best performance out of a bat the most essential element is to choose the right weight for you, this will really help you to time the ball better and ultimately make more runs.
If a 2lb 9oz and a 2lb 10oz bats are placed in front of the player, it is unlikely that he/ she would be able to tell the difference. We feel pick-up is more important than dead weight as pick-up determines how the bat will feel in play. Nobody will be able to tell you what the right pick up is for you, or the exact weight you should use, infact it is a question of what feels right for you.
English Willow Bats are lighter than Kashmir Willow. So, you should select your bat according to its feel and pickup. Sometimes heavy bats feel lighter due to smart bat making technique.
Short or Long Handle:
It is strongly advised for players to choose a short handled cricket bat for increased control. However if you are tall, i.e. above 6 foot 2 inches it might be advisable for you to select a long handled cricket bat, they are however, much less readily available due to very less demand. Infact, many tall players are also opting for Short Handles.
Handle Type (Round or Oval):
Generally, a good bat handle absorb the shock created from the ball. Oval shape in the lower handle provides strength to its structure. It improves the pickup of the bat. It also provides players a better directional feel. But it is difficult to grip oval handle bat too hard. As a result the top hand controls the shot. So we recommend the technical batsmen should go for oval handled bat. Round handle provide more control to the bottom hand. Thus hard hitting batsmen must choose round handled bats. You can select the length of your handle as per your comfort level.
Number of Grips:
No two hands are same, so batsman’s hands affect the design of handle. If a batsman has small hands, he should go for a thinner handle. This can be managed by applying extra rubber grips. The grips help you to get the actual width and feel of the handle you want. Many players like to have two grips. It provides lighter pickup and improved bat speed. But it also adds some extra weight to the bat. Choose number of grips on the basis of your feel of the bat.
You must also consider the following points prior to purchasing your new Cricket bat:
- Budget: You must analyze as how much you want to spend on your cricket bat? This is a most important point to consider when selecting your cricket bat. If you have no budget constraints then you can target the Players’, Limited edition, and top end senior range bats.
- Which Cricket bat have you used before: Are you happy with your previous Cricket bat or the brand in terms of quality, personal performance and overall satisfaction? If you are satisfied then you should consider purchasing a cricket bat from the same bat manufacturer/ brand.
- Growth as a Player: If you are a child looking to purchase a cricket bat or are buying a bat for a child, it would be worth considering his/ her growth. When your child is growing quickly, particularly during his/her early teens, selecting a cricket bat is a whole lot harder. If this is the case, it would be advisable not to spend large amounts of money on a top end cricket bat that could potentially only be used for half a season.
- Seriousness as a Cricket player: The level you are playing determines how frequent you will be using your cricket bat. If you are playing at a high level, you will probably be playing multiple times a week against high quality quick bowling. Therefore you requires a high quality Cricket bat.