Bats: Oiling, Knocking-In, Toe Guard Application, Summer and Winter Maintenance
Don`t over do it! On purchase, a cricket bat requires a light oiling of all areas except the splice. Leaving the bat in a horizontal position, do not use it for two weeks. After that time, give the bat a very light sanding and a further light oiling (excluding the back this time). Leave in a horizontal position for a few days before starting the knocking-in process. Higher-grade bats should receive a further light sanding and very light oiling after stage 2 of knocking in (see below).
While the need to `run-in` a car has diminished with man-made technology, the same cannot be said of the raw materials involved in cricket bat manufacturing. The knocking in process is ideally completed in five stages. The weakest part of the blade is the edge and knocking in should concentrate on this area.
- 1. Using an old ball or preferably a bat mallet, starting gently, strike the bat to mimic a ball deflecting off the edge of the bat.
- 2. Increase the impact and continue until the edges have visible rounded.
- 3. Again with an old ball or mallet, work gently on the face of the blade.
- 4. Use the bat in a net session against older balls.
- 5. Finally, increase the hardness of the ball, perhaps with some throw-downs.
Applying a Toe Guard
getpaddedup supply toe guards in a range of colours. To fit one, you will need some course and fine sandpaper or ambri board, scissors or a blade and a synthetic rubber based adhesive (available from a hardware shop). If you have purchased the `getpaddedup toe guard kit`, you will have all these items except for scissors/blade.
Step One: using the course sandpaper enclosed in the `getpaddedup toe guard kit`, rough-up the toe of the bat to create a key.
Step Two: use a synthetic rubber based adhesive (fevibond is recommended and available from getpaddedup.co.uk). Apply a coat of glue to both the toe guard (smooth side) and the bat toe. Leave both for 15 minutes and then apply another sparse coat to both bat and guard.
Step Three: fix the guard to the toe ensuring all areas of the toe are covered. Leave it until completely set and all edges are full adhered to the bat. It may be necessary to clamp the guard or use strong adhesive tape to secure the guard in place while it sets. If using tape, be careful not to place onto bat stickers that may peel off when the tape is removed.
Step Four: trim the guard using strong scissors or a blade, ensuring you work away from your hands. To create a professional finish, use the three grades of sandpaper enclosed with the `getpaddedup toe guard kit`; first the course paper used in step one and then the two finer grades in turn. Apply a small amount of glue to any areas not fully adhered.
Temperatures in a car, even in a British summer, will reach a level that will dry out a bat as if it had been left next to a fire or radiator. Wherever possible, remove your bat from the car as soon as possible and store as per `winter care` above.
Willow has a natural moisture content and ideal storage conditions should allow natural absorption of moisture. An obvious comment you would think but bat breakage is often caused by poor storage. If you leave your bat in a warm, centrally heated room or next to a fire, it will dry out, go brittle and be susceptible to damage. If you leave your bat lying on a damp surface, it will absorb too much moisture and the toe will become swollen. The ideal place for a bat over winter is in a garage or shed with a sealed floor - this will provide sufficient but not excessive moisture. If the floor is not sealed, support the bat above the floor.
Top grade English willow or Kashmiri willow, wide or narrow grains, fully knocked in or not, a cricket bat is a natural product. No one can determine when or where your bat will `go`. While yorkers and outside edges are the most common instances where bat damage will occur, surface cracks will appear on all bats without effecting performance. So it is always wise to take good care of your bat, helping to prolong it`s life as long as possible, it is a tool of the trade and will not last for ever.