As a Batsman, whether you’re an amateur, good club player or professional, you will want to have a goal to get to the top of your team’s batting averages. Essential to this will be the considerations you make when selecting what cricket to buy and what bat is best for you. Here are 13 things to look out for when making such an important purchase decision.
1) Legal Specifications
Bat manufacturers must stay within the laws of the game as laid down by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord’s Cricket Ground. All brands stocked in reputable retailers will adhere to these laws. The MCC’s Law 5 states:
5.7 Bat size limits
5.7.1 The overall length of the bat, when the lower portion of the handle is inserted, shall not be more than 38 in/96.52 cm.
5.7.2 The blade of the bat shall not exceed the following dimensions:
Width: 4.25in / 10.8 cm
Depth: 2.64in / 6.7 cm
Edges: 1.56in / 4.0cm.
The material used for bat manufacture is willow. Willow is a naturally fibrous wood grown in England and India. The two types of willow used to make cricket bats are English Willow and Kashmir Willow (Indian).
English Willow – This is the best material to use to make cricket bats as it is naturally soft and has a high performance when striking the cricket ball. Professional players and most adult players will only use bats made from English Willow.
Kashmir Willow – This material is sometimes used as a substitute to English Willow but has an inferior quality and performance. Thus, Kashmir Willow is often used in the manufacture of cheap, lower quality bats or junior bats.
3) Preconditioned cricket bats, Preparation and Maintenance
Some manufacturers make bats that come preconditioned, which means they claim to be treated and knocked in. While these bats are supposed to be match ready, I would thoroughly recommend knocking in the bat yourself and practicing hitting some slower deliveries with an old ball. It is always the batsman’s responsibility to ensure the bat is fully prepared and ready for match play.
4) Anti-scuff Protected or Covered Face
Often recommended is the fitting of a protective anti-scuff sheet. This clear plastic sheet will not diminish the bat’s performance but can help to prevent damage from minor knocks and prohibits moisture from being absorbed into the blade.
5) Natural Finish
Most high quality and professional cricket bats traditionally come with a natural, uncovered finish without an anti-scuff cover or face tape. This is due to the natural high quality of the willow used. However, you should be aware that some poor quality willow bats maybe artificially bleached to give the appearance of high quality willow. Do not be fooled and always check the type, grade and specification of your purchase.
6) Number of Grains on the Bat
This is rather subjective as there are many views on the number of grains a good bat should have and it really comes down to the discretion of the batsman. A good rule of thumb is that 6-12 grains on the bat face is generally considered high quality. A bat with only 6 grains will probably be softer than one with 10-12 grains and generally will take longer to knock in and longer to reach optimum performance. However, there some premium bats that come with fewer grains.
7) Willow Grade and Appearance
English Willow grades vary with grade 1+ (A) being the highest quality down the lowest grade 4.
Grade 1+ (A) – This is the highest quality grade and historically reserved for test cricket bats and professional bats. These days there is an increasing number being made for the public in specialist stores. The grains are straight, with little or no blemishes and the wood is unbleached and has no discolouring.
Grade 1, G1 (A) – Professional standard, high quality English Willow. Again, straight and even grains with minimal blemishing and unbleached.
Grade 2, G2 (B) – Top club standard, unbleached English Willow. Some uneven grain forms and some discolouring may be in evidence on the face.
Grade 3, G3 (C) – Lower league standard, usually unbleached with uneven grain, markings and discolouration on the blade.
Grade 4, G4 – Beginner standard, usually bleached, often non-oiled with a covering on the bat face.
8) Weight and Pickup
This is down to personal preference. Before purchasing a bat, you should try it out by picking it up as you would if you were at the crease. Lift the bat as if you were facing a bowler about to bowl a delivery. Does the bat feel light or heavy? If you are a front foot driver of the ball, you would most likely prefer a heavier bat with a low sweet spot, whereas a player who scores most of their runs aerially would probably go for a lighter bat with a higher sweet spot.
Hold the bat out in front of you with one hand. If you can’t do it, the bat is too heavy.
Moreover, it is advisable to wear batting gloves when ascertaining the pickup of a bat to simulate more accurately the exact conditions you would be wielding it in. Also, it would be advantageous to try a few practice shots without the ball to see how effectively you can swing it.
9) Shape and Profile
This, too, is a matter personal choice. Some players prefer a large bow, others a smaller one. Modern professional cricketers tend increasingly to have a predilection for bats with lower bows and thicker edges. This is also being reflected in the bats being made for the public, although a larger bow and thicker edges naturally add weight to the bat, significantly affecting the pickup. Some bats have bows lower down the bat, giving a lower striking sweet spot, while others have a higher bow with a consequently higher sweet spot.
If you are playing in northern England or India with low bouncing pitches, you may consider a bat profile with a lower bow. However, in Australia, with dry, bouncy pitches, a bat with a higher bow may be preferable.
10) Toe Guard
The toe of the bat is perhaps the most vulnerable part. It is susceptible to damage because the bat is designed to make contact with the ball 6-8 inches up from the toe in the middle of the bat face. When the batsman faces a Yorker delivery, which is aimed at the toe end of the bat, the contact of a high-paced moving ball on the toe can cause the wood to dent or even split. A toe guard can help protect the bat against this kind of damage and is therefore desirable. The tow guard can also minimise moisture seeping into the bat when the batsman taps the crease with the toe of the bat. Many cricket bats these days come with a toe guard already fitted.
11) Short or Long Handle
Senior (full size) cricket bats come in two sizes: long and short handle. Most senior players would opt for a short handle bat in order to gain more control over the bat swing. However, if you are over 6′ 2″ then a long handle bat may be the preferred choice. Children’s sizes range from size 1 (smallest) to size 6 with an intermediary size ‘Harrow’ for teenagers not quite big enough to wield a senior bat.
12) Twenty/Twenty Style Cricket Bat
This type of bat has come about since the popularity of the 20/20 format of the game. It has a longer handle and shorter blade to allow for power hitting, which is a keystone of the 20/20 format. Some 20/20 bats have a narrow width and thinner edges to reduce the weight and increase bat speed.
13) Size of Cricket Bat
Use the chart below to select bat size according to height. Also, take your strength into consideration and never select a bat that you are not comfortable holding out in front of you with one hand.
|Cricket Bat Size Chart|
|Approx Age||Height of Batsmen (feet)||Bat Length (inches)||Bat Width (inches)|
|4-5||to 4’3″||25 3/4″||3 1/2″|
|6-7||4’3″ – 4’6″||27 3/4″||3 1/2″|
|8||4’6″ – 4’9″||28 3/4″||3 3/4″|
|9-11||4’9″ – 4’11”||29 3/4″||3 3/4″|
|10-12||4’11” – 5’2″||30 3/4″||4″|
|11-13||5’2″ – 5’6″||31 3/4″||4″|
|12-14||5’6″ – 5’9″||32 3/4″||4 1/6″|
|15+||5’9″ – 6’2″||33 1/2||4 1/4″|
|15+||over 6’2″||34 3/8″||43/4″|
Final Purchase Decisions
So that wraps it up, apart from a few final considerations to make before you ultimately decide what cricket bat to buy.
Budget – How much are you willing to spend on a bat? The top end senior bats range roughly in price from £350-£500. There are some high quality bats available for £200-£350 with mid-value for money bats at about £100-£150. High quality junior bats are likely to be about £150-£200.
Your previous bat(s) – If you have used a bat before, consider if you were happy with it or not. If it was too heavy, maybe you should feel the pickup of a lighter bat this time and vice versa.
Growth – If you are a child or buying for your kids, take growth into account as a factor. If a child is growing quickly, it is advisable not to spend too much money on a bat designed for durability when it might only be used for half a season.
Your level as a player – This will determine how often you will be using the bat. If you are a very serious team player, it is likely you will be playing every week against good bowling opposition and practicing in the nets nearly every day. Thus, you will require a very durable, high quality bat.
As always, leave your comments below. I’d be delighted to hear what you think of this guide and how much it helped you come to a bat purchasing decision.