A cricket bat can last a lifetime with proper care, but most players are happy if they last a solid season. Cricketbats -- made of fine-grained willow -- need a careful introduction to the leather balls that, hopefully, they will hit to score many runs. Preparations and care start long before players use them in a match. These steps, from the first oiling to the first innings, ensure batsmen enjoy a good return from their relatively large investment.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Raw linseed oil
- Cricket bat
- Old cloth or rags
- Toe guard
- Fine sandpaper
- Bat mallet
- Old cricket ball
- Spare handle rubber
Rub raw linseed oil into the bat's face with your fingers or an old cloth or rag. Keep the bat horizontal and apply to the back and edges, too. Let the oil soak in overnight before applying another coat.
Apply oil to the toe of the bat when it is upright. The toe will need at least six applications, 24 hours apart. Some makers fit a toe guard to prevent the toe from cracking. So once you finish oiling, consider fitting one for extra protection.
Lightly sandpaper the face between coats. Makers recommend three to four coats and warn against "over-oiling" the bat. Oiling the bat prevents moisture from escaping and thus keeps the bat in top condition.
When the bat is properly oiled start knocking it in. Willow is a very soft wood and must be compressed, particularly at the edges. Lightly tap both edges with a special bat mallet, not straight on but at a glancing angle. Gradually increase the force. This process will compact the edges and compress the wood, preventing the bat from cracking or splintering when used in a match.
Tap the face of the bat, concentrating on the bottom six inches and the toe. The more time spent on the knock-in process, the stronger the bat will be. Julian Knight, writing in "Cricket for dummies," suggests several hours for the process .
Try the bat with an old ball to see if seam marks show. If the seam leaves a mark, the bat needs more knocking in. Alternatively bounce an old ball on the edge as a test.
After every innings, wipe the bat clean. After a very long innings, sandpaper the face to remove red ball marks. A little raw linseed oil to finish is always useful. Store in a warm, dry place.
Before every season, apply more oil. Three coats should be enough.
You will need to replace the handle's rubber regularly, as the rubber will perish and crack with use.
Tips and warnings
- If bats have a plastic protective coating, and the maker says they are ready for use, they will still need some 'knocking in' particularly on the edges, according to Julian Knight.
- Plastic-coated bats still need oiling on the back and toe.
- Never oil the splice. This weakens the glue that cements the bat to the handle. However, the maker's plastic decal--on the bat face--usually protects the splice.
- Never throw the bat, no matter how disgusted you are with your performance. It is not the bat's fault.
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