So... you’ve bought yourself a new cricket bat and can’t wait to get out on in the middle to show off the power and finesse of your new blade. STOP!!! There are some very important steps that you need to take before you unleash a glorious cover drive to the boundary. A cricket bat that has been prepared and maintained properly will not only last longer but also perform better.
One of the main processes to prepare your new bat is referred to as “Knocking In” and it is literally hitting the face of the bat with a specially designed mallet. Why do you this? I’m glad you asked. Most cricket bats are made of English or Kashmir willow and are “soft” types of wood, English Willow being the softer of the two. By hitting the face of the bat with a bat mallet, it compressors the fibres in the wood together to form a barrier that protects the bat against the impact of the ball. The harder and more compressed the fibres of the bat are, the better the ball comes off the bat once hit. It also prevents the bat from splitting.
“A CRICKET BAT THAT HAS BEEN PREPARED AND MAINTAINED PROPERLY WILL NOT ONLY LAST LONGER BUT ALSO PERFORM BETTER.”
Now some cricket bats are labelled “Ready to Play” or “Pre-Knocked” by the manufactures, which is true as most bats will have been pressed in the factory. But this doesn’t mean that you should use it straight off the shelf. It is recommended that all new bats go through the knocking in process to ensure that your new piece of willow will be with you for the long haul.
Here are some basic steps to follow when knocking in your new bat:
Grab a bat mallet or a ball mallet and start striking the face of your bat from the top and work your way across. Please note you don’t want to hit the splice of the bat. This is where the handle is joined to the bat and is generally covered by the brand stickers. So start just below the stickers.
Keep striking the bat with the mallet moving left to right slowly making your way down to the toe of the bat. It is best to start out with softer strikes and gradually make the harder as you progress. You want to do about 2 to 3 strikes per second.
Now it is recommended that the above process be done for around 8 to 10 hours in total. It does sound like a lot but the best way is to break it up and do a half hour a day for a couple of weeks.
It is important to pay particular attention to the edges and toe of the bat as they are the mostly likely places where cracking can occur. For the edges, don’t knock them directly on the edge. It is best to strike them by deflecting from the face of the bat. Another way is to roll a wooden stump (or round piece of wood) up and down the edges applying firm but even pressure.
Once you have completed the knocking in process the next step is to graduate to use the bat to prepare it for match conditions. Throw downs in the nets or short catches with an old quality cricket ball is the best method. If seams marks or big indents are still visible then you may need to go back to the bat mallet and continue to knock in for another hour or so.
So there it is. It may seem like a bit of effort, but your bat will be so much better for taking the time to prepare it correctly. With some basic maintenance and care your cricket bat will last for many seasons and hopefully will see it’s fair share of runs!
- Written by Vinesh Bennett