Tips + Tools

YOU ARE IN: home » About Pure Sport » Tips + Tools

 As cricket bats are made from a fairly soft timber (willow) and with cricket balls being bowled at an impact speed of well over 100kph against your bat, it is critical to prepare your bat for optimum performance, strength and durability. This process is referred to as "Knocking in".

"All cricket bats purchased new must be knocked in".

There are cricket bats from some companies which are available new and 'ready to use' but we and others are not overly convinced about the merit of such an option as there is every possibility that these cricket bats may be 'over pressed'. Over pressing a cricket bat will extend a bats life span but will also and detrimentally reduce the performance and ping of your bat. A cricket bat should be crafted to provide optimal ping and performance and by knocking in such a bat properly yourself you are then able to extend the lifespan of your cricket bat.

Knocking a cricket bat in is in fact a very simple process but it must be done correctly. Please ensure that you run your bat in properly after purchase and before use against new cricket balls in the nets or in matches. A cricket bat which has not been run in may still perform ok but it will perform much better and last a lot longer if it has been run in properly. It is well worth investing a few hours over a few days to ensure your bat is run in correctly.

Cricket bats ordered through Pure Sport will come in a natural polished willow finish. This is universally accepted as the best finish for a cricket bat because they can be both oiled and used as is or be applied with a Cricket bat Facing material.

Knocking In

By knocking your cricket bat in we are trying to harden and knit the fibrous textures of the face of your bat before we expose it to a new cricket ball being bowled at 90 mph. This is the most crucial process of running your bat in. A cricket bat that is run in correctly will provide you with more driving power and also have a much longer life span. We prefer the following technique to knocking in although our method is probably over the top. Either way its your choice.

The first step we do is to obtain the oldest, daggiest leather ball we have and then start to softly hit the front face (blade) with the ball in one hand and the bat on our laps. Have a seat in front of the TV and watch some telly because you need to do this for at least 2 hours. Warn you partner or family that this procedure could become annoying but as far as we are concerned there is nothing like sitting in front of the TV knocking in a new cricket bat.

Some people recommend doing this with a Wooden or Ball Bat Mallet straight from the start and you can do this immediately but put an old sock over the Mallet to soften the initial knocking in process.

During this process make sure that you are knocking every region of the blade. Work down the edges in a methodical fashion and then up and down through the central blade. A cricket bat is designed to hit a ball in its lower middle section, between 10 to 30 cms (4 to 12 inches) from the bottom, so even though you should eventually concentrate on this region you also need to knock the entire blade in as well. As much as we would like to play all of our shots from this hitting zone, even the Don miss hit a few shots.

Every once in a while press a finger nail lightly into the blade. At the beginning this will leave an indentation but over the entire running in procedure such marks will become harder to make.

After these first 2 hours with an old leather ball or the sock covered mallet have a break. If you are going to leave it overnight or have a few hours break then give the bat the absolute lightest of oil rubs with that same open weave cloth. There will be more than enough oil in the cloth already so no need to put any more oil onto the cloth.

The next day or after your break use a wooden Bat Mallet (Available from Pure Sport) without its sock to begin gently tapping the face and edges of the blade. Again make sure that you cover every region of the blade.

Gradually begin to increase the force of your blows. It is so important to ensure that you cover every area of the blade that a ball can hit it including the edges which should show a rounded appearance after a while. We recommend you spend another 2 hours on this procedure.

Running a cricket bat in must require patience. You simply will not get the best out of any cricket bat unless you spend this time correctly running it in. Your investment of time will be well worth it as there is nothing like a well run in cricket bat. Your diligence and patience during this process will be well rewarded.
So now that should be 4 hours you have spent patiently running your bat in. Now you can go outside and begin to bounce that original daggy ball up and down on your bat and also hit some small catches in the back yard.

At this stage begin to get the feel of the cricket bat. All cricket bats have their sweet spots and you will be able to easily identify yours during this process. The sweet spot should be where you play the majority of your attacking shots from. After an hour or so of this its time to finally head off to the nets.

Get a mate to throw or bowl you some old leather balls in the nets. DO NOT use "compo" balls or balls that are not made from leather. DO NOT use new balls at this stage. Spend an hour playing mostly defensive strokes with the occasional gentle and well timed drive, cut or pull. Keep an eye on the face and edges of the blade. If you have knocked your cricket bat in properly these older leather balls should not be leaving any deep indentations on the blades face. If they are, then go back to the TV and continue with the original knocking in procedure.

That should now be 6 hours spent knocking in your cricket bat. We said it was a long process and I suppose that is why some people prefer to pay to have their new cricket bats run in.

Begin to use newer balls in the nets playing these mostly defensive and gentle attacking strokes. At this stage it is vital to keep an eye on the indentations that these newer balls make. If you have knocked it in well there should be very few signs of indentations. Spend an hour or so with these newer balls.
Following this (7 hours so far) begin to use new balls in the nets. Again keep an eye on the face after each stroke and concentrate on timed shots as opposed to big hitting.

Its not a bad idea to follow this net session with a brief session with the mallet once you get home.

Assuming you have followed these steps your cricket bat should be ready for use under match conditions.

During the season we recommend that you give the bat a very light but regular (once a week after matches) wipe down with that same open weave cloth which we suggest you keep in your kit in a plastic bag.

During "major oil services" (seasons start and seasons end) give your bat a light sanding with very fine sandpaper removing marks and dirty surfaces prior to the oiling process.

PURE BAT CARE (Maintenance)



Common Cricket Bat Problems -
The following are some hints on common problems that can occur with Cricket Bats -
 

Handles
The cricket bat handle is susceptible to an incredible amount of strain due to the nature of the way that the ball is played. The section about an inch above the shoulders is the weakest point. This can break very easily when a ball is driven with gusto at the very base of the bat (the toe).
The bat is endeavouring to pivot around the bottom hand but is not being allowed to do so due to the top hand being in position to complete the effectiveness of the shot. Usually the front section of cane is fractured and so the handle would need to be replaced, best done by a manufacturer of bats or a bat repairer.
Sometimes the handle becomes very flexible and has the feel of a broken handle but no fracture can be seen. This is due to the rubbers within the construction of the handle coming unstuck. Removing the string and gently pulling apart the canes sufficient to apply some adhesive should repair this. The best adhesive to use here is superglue (the thin watery kind). Once a small amount of the superglue is applied the handle can be clamped back together by rolling a few strong rubber bands down the length of the bat handle.
If the bat feels as if it has lost a bit of power small splits are visible running parallel to the splice going downwards from the shoulders. These are sometimes very hard to effectively repair depending on the extent of the damage. On occasion these are caused by the manufacturer not bringing the handle binding down low enough to hold the shoulders together or the rubbers in the handle go too far down into the handle splice thus causing too much movement.
If the splits are less than one inch long then one can help to stop them going further by soaking superglue into the crack repeatedly until the crack has filled and hardened. When the splits are noticeably longer the bat is best sent to a proper bat repairer or if still under warranty returned to the manufacturer.
The splice of the cricket bat sometimes comes away to the point of observing movement when the handle is flexed. Applying superglue to the small hairline cracks visible can also repair this.
The Toe
The base of the cricket bat (the toe) is very susceptible to damage. The balanced design of a cricket bat means that this is the weakest part of the willow blade and yet is subjected to the fastest ball and bat speed at point of impact. Yorkers are the worst kind of bat breaking ball to be bowled and most toe breakage is as a result of receiving one.
The Yorker can often result in a vertical crack running up the length of the blade on the front and back of the cricket bat. If the crack is only and inch or two long it can be repaired by the simple superglue method described earlier.
If the cracks are longer than two inches a good quality PVA adhesive should be used. This will require clamping. PVA is used as it is slightly elastic and absorbs the impact of a ball well. It is incorrect to use epoxies as they will crack very easily as they do not have the flexibility of PVA.
We recommend going to a professional cricket bat repairer for any major work to be done on the toe of the bat.
A thin smear of raw linseed oil a few times over the season is strongly advised to help dispel moisture that may seep into the toe when batting on a wet wicket.


The Face & Edges
The face and edges of the cricket bat receive a continuous battering and they must be looked after to ensure they last and the middle performs well. The cricket bat needs to be prepared as per the knocking in guidelines given on the L&W website. The use of raw linseed oil is crucial to ensure that the face and edges survive the impact of the ball, read more about this in our knocking in section of the website.
Once in use the face will start to crack in horizontal lines across the grain. This is quite normal together with small vertical cracks on the blade. The best way to deal with this is to use the superglue method to help reinforce the willow and then apply an adhesive facing. The best adhesive facing available on the market is a product made in Auckland and is quite often used to protect helicopter rotor blades from small stones chipping them. We actually sell this adhesive facing in our accessories section of our website. (see also Bat Facing above)
The face of your cricket bat will sometimes keep going for more than a season before it starts cracking if you look after it - it happens differently in every bat. As mentioned for the toe of the bat a thin smear of raw linseed oil over the face and edges helps the cricket bat to retain its own moisture and reduces the rate of cracking due to allowing the fibres to stretch rather than crack.


Do's and Don'ts of Cricket Bats


DO NOT leave your cricket bat in the hot boot of a car. This is one of the worst things you can do especially in hot summer months when cricket is played.
DO NOT take your dismissal out on the cricket bat once you get in the change rooms.
DO NOT use your cricket bat against cheap cricket balls especially the old compo's!
DO NOT expose your cricket bat to excessive moisture or rain. Always dry your bat immediately if it does get wet. (To minimise absorption through the toe of the bat feel free to give this area a light coat of marine varnish. Some of the cricket bats sold by Middlepeg have had the toe region treated with DriGuard which repels moisture)
DO NOT OVER OIL your cricket bat. Less is best when it comes to oiling. It is just as dangerous to over oil a bat as it is to under oil.
DO NOT try to discover the aerodynamic capabilities of your cricket bat after a dismissal. Cricket bats were not designed to fly and throwing your bat is one of the silliest things you can do to it. We have never known a cricket bat to be responsible for a dismissal anyway!
DO take care of your cricket bat.
DO prepare and knock in your cricket bat in correctly.
DO oil your cricket bat regularly (a very, very light coating once every few months).
DO store the cricket bat in a cool dry location away from excessive heat or moisture.
And ..........DO go out and make runs with it!