Bats: Choosing and Buying Your Bat
Useful Tips for your On-line Cricket Bat Purchase
1. Use the information sections below to establish the type of bat you are looking for. You will find information on how weight, grain, pick-up and willow source can be used to your advantage, in purchasing and in play.
2. Ensure that you purchase a bat that clearly lists the willow source - if the description does not clearly state `English` willow, an alternative (and usually inferior) source is likely. We recommend non-English willow for lower grade and junior cricket only.
3. Ensure that English willow grade is clearly indicated as A Grade 1, A Grade 2, A Grade 3 or A Grade 4. Items listed `A Grade` incorporates four differing grades and can lead to inaccurate purchasing.
4. Check that an accurate weight is listed and, if possible, an indication of `pick-up`. Heavier bats can have a light pick-up when skillfully made.
5. Use email to ask any question about your intended purchase.
Cricket bat willow is mainly sourced from England and Kashmir. In England, the industry is based in Essex and Suffolk, where 90% of worldwide cricket willow is grown and is globally considered to be the finest available. Kashmiri willow bats are aimed at the lower end of the market and are usually much heavier and less responsive, due to the higher moisture content from the growing conditions. getpaddedup currently offer Kashmiri willow bats in junior sizes only. Some Indian bat manufacturers use a willow described as `EWNI` - English willow nurtured in India. This is an English `stock` that has been grown in Kashmir, has English characteristics in looks and grain but Kashmiri characteristics in weight (naturally higher moisture content, see weight below). getpaddedup stock a limited range of EWNI bats and recommend these for lower grade and junior cricket only.
As a natural product, even the finest willow will have some `blemishes` or `pin knots` and hence even a top grade bat will not be 100% clean; some imperfections will exist but not in key areas. While some imperfections will effect playing ability, others will not; for example, in older times, the presence of a butterfly stain was accepted as giving additional strength to the blade; in modern times, cosmetic looks sometimes overrule the truth.
There are four grades on English willow available on the market (A Grade 1 to A Grade 4). There is a fifth (A Grade 1+), but this is the ultimate finest willow and is reserved for the pro market.
- A Grade 1 - finest willow used in the top of the range models. Blades would typically have straight grains, be unbleached and have very few imperfections (usually the playing area will be clean). Some red wood may be present around the edges.
- A Grade 2 - fine quality willow but with potentially higher red wood content (playing performance will usually be unaffected). Imperfections will be present in the form on minor blemishes and pin knots. Mostly straight grains and unbleached.
- A Grade 3 - good quality willow but with some irregular grain patterns. Imperfections may be present in the playing area, in the form of stains and overall, more prominent knots and higher amount of red wood are likely. Blade may be bleached.
- A Grade 4 - the lowest grade, certainly bleached and often used for `non-oil cover` bats but may play as well as some higher grades. Likely to contain more imperfections, including butterfly stains, knots and red wood.
This is an area often overlooked by the bat buyer. For a customer `in the know`, the number of grains on a bat can provide a lot of information. So lets make sure you are...
Two general considerations apply. Firstly, performance. A narrow grain bat (more grains across the blade) will give better performance from an early stage. Why? The narrow grain indicates slow growth and results in a more responsive end product. However, narrow grain bats (12+ grains) will certainly not last as long and may, in the hand of a professional, be discarded after a few hundred runs. Wider grain may play very well over a period of time but perhaps not initially.
Secondly, a wider grained bat (less grains across the blade, usually considered as 5 or less) will last longer. Why? The wider grain indicates quicker growth, allowing an early felling and therefore giving a younger and hence stronger wood. In the modern world, even the willow grower is subject to commercial decisions and it is very likely that quicker growth will be in favour. getpaddedup list the average number of grains in each bat range for our customers to use when making a choice - in summary, more (narrow) grains for better response but potentially shorter life, less (wider) grains for longer life. The happy medium? You certainly need to consider the standard of cricket you participate in but in general, around 6 to 8.
All bats on getpaddedup are listed to within 1oz of their `scale weight`. While this gives a good indication to our customers, `scale weight` only does not indicate how heavy a bat will feel. Different styles of bats are designed for different approaches to batting, where pick-up and design, combined with weight, contribute to the performance of the finished product. Wherever possible, getpaddedup list the type of batsman that each bat has been designed for.
In general, there are two major factors that contribute to the `scale weight` of a bat. Firstly, the type of willow used. Kashmiri willow has a naturally higher moisture content and this is the reason this type has a higher minimum weight than English willow. Secondly, the drying process. A cleft that has been allowed to dry over a long period of time will allow the craftsman to deliver a finished product with an even distribution of weight throughout the blade, contributing to a `nice pick-up`.
Can a heavy bat have a light pick-up and visa versa? For sure! The bat maker and the moisture content of the raw product contribute to the pick-up. The manufacturers design and bat makers` skill in distributing weight, when working with a quality raw material, can certainly deliver a heavy bat with a light pick-up. For the bat buyer, it`s a very personal decision and one that has no rules; a slightly built batsman may choose a light bat with light pick due to his or her physical characteristics but could also decide to use a meatier and heavier tool to make up for their lack of `beef`. To aid you in your purchase, getpaddedup have graded all bats on scale of 1 to 5, 1 = light pick-up, 5 = heavy. Note that heavy pick-up models are uncommon.
For many years, bats were available in long and short handle models. While long handle bats are still made, the short handled bat has become very much the norm, with diminishing customer demand for long handle. To be able to provide a wider variety of bats, getpaddedup stock only short handle bats.
The construction of the handle itself has developed in recent years with the use of stronger cane from Singapore. It is important that the splice and handle are not oiled, as this will have a detrimental effect on the glue used to fix the blade to the handle.
Grips are available in all sorts of colours and textures. In terms of playability, the only real factor is the width that the grip gives to the handle - how it feels in your hand! Many players prefer to have two grips, considering that it aids a lighter pick-up. If you order a grip at the time of ordering a bat, you can request getpaddedup to apply the grip on top of the existing one - there is no charge for this service.
NEVER apply a grip without using a cricket bat gripping cone; the grip is likely to split if not applied in the correct manner.