To become a good batsman, choosing the right type of bat is crucial. The right bat can not only support your batting skills, it can enhance your performance and technique.
But how will you understand which is the bat for you? Choosing a cricket bat is no child’s play and it takes years of practice to understand which cricket bat is exactly right for you. The best blade for a Kohli isn’t the one for Dhoni. Selecting the right one needs lots of trials and a deep understanding of your game. However, starting with some basic knowledge will help you to zero in on the perfect match faster. Unfortunately, most beginners and casual batsmen err in their choice of bats for lack of knowledge. Here’s a guide to help you start on the right note.
Consider these factors while buying the cricket bat:
At the start, ascertain the ball to be used with the cricket bat If you wish to play with a tennis ball, go for a tennis cricket bat. You will need a thicker bat in case you wish to play with a leather ball.
It is crucial to choose a bat that matches your height. If you are an adult, go for a full-size bat, if you are 11 or 12, a bat of size 6 will be ideal for you and if you are smaller, go for size 4 or 5. The sizes vary depending on the size of the blade and the size of the handle. The largest size i.e. the adult size is called the Long Blade and is denoted by the symbol LH. The image below explains the various bat sizes available and recommendations based on height.
Cricket bats are made up of willow. They are mainly of two types – the English willow and the Kashmir Willow. English willow is the most popular one and is costlier of the two because it is soft and fibrous which imparts the right characteristics to a bat – balance, power, and durability. An English willow bat is softer and less grainy than a Kashmir willow bat. However, for a non-trained eye, it is pretty difficult to differentiate between the two. Kashmir willow bats are good (cheaper) to learn the sport but heavier (due to higher moisture content). However, as you better your game, your need to own an English willow will grow.
Weight is definitely one of the most important factors to consider while buying a bat. English willows are lighter than the Kashmir counterparts. A lighter bat moves faster and helps in better bat control. However, the weight of a bat that you wish to play with totally depends on you – your physique, batting style and position you are going to bat at. Lighter bats are preferred by opening bats who face pacers with the new ball while explosive end-of-innings-hitters want more wood to ensure even the miss-hits clear the fence. It is possible that you will feel more comfortable using a heavier bat and you would not know it unless you have spent sufficient time batting. Remember how master blaster Sachin Tendulkar used a super heavy bat even though he was shorter than most of his contemporaries?
Grains are elongated lines across the blade which indicate the age of the willow used to make the bat. The higher the grains, the older is the willow and the better is the performance, but lesser is the durability. If a bat has a 10+ graining, the bat is player quality. Lesser grains indicate stronger wood and a longer life, though. A 6+ grain bat is considered to be good and is graded as a B+ bat while a 10+ graining is regarded as an A+ bat. Anything between 6 to 8 grains is a good bat to play with.
Batting Style and Sweet Spots
Every bat has a sweet spot (middles) – the area that generates maximum timing on the ball. The location of the sweet spot depends on the bat construction and shape – mainly on where most wood is added at the back of the blade. The shape of the bat that you should go with depends on your batting style and will be unique to you. Front foot players are more comfortable with bats with lower middles to suit their drives while back foot players usually go for higher middle bats – ideal for pulls and cuts.
The handle absorbs shock of a 100+ mph ball hitting the swinging bat. The right handle must
Provide the right grip for your style and array of shots
Absorb Maximum shock
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There are 2 types of handles – oval and round. The oval shaped handle has multiple benefits – better pick-up, better grip and a specific directional feel. However, holding an oval handle is pretty difficult. A round handle, on the other hand, provides better control to the bottom hand and is good for batsmen who are used to hard hitting. Various thicknesses are available. The best one for you depends on your hand size. Larger hands demand thicker handles. Batsmen with small hands often go for thinner handles or even custom made handles. A batsman’s hand size affects the way a bat is designed? Batsmen with small hands often go for thinner handles. The length of the handle of the bat entirely depends on what you are comfortable with. Longer handles provide better pickup and reach at the cost of increased weight.
The handle thicknesses are at specific intervals. In order to fine tune it for their hand size, batsmen use grips. It also acts as a shock absorber. Some players prefer to have two grips which help in improving bat speed (pick up) by raising the centre of gravity. The grip is entirely a batsman’s choice and what a batsman feels comfortable with.
The toe or the lower portion of the bat contains comparatively lesser wood than the rest of the bat simply because most shots are played using the middle portion of the bat. However, when batsmen face yorkers, the same has to be played with the toe end of the bat. Needless to say a fast ball meeting the weak end of a bat can chip or splice it. The bat may even crack on impact. Therefore, it is very important to attach the toe guard to the bat to protect the bat from the risk of breakage.
All cricket bats sustain significant wear and tear due to high-speed collision with balls. There’s no need to be worried if your bat develops a few surface cracks or the blade gets discoloured. However, try and avoid misuse and mistimed strokes to increase the longevity of the bat. Remember to store the bat correctly, maintain it regularly and protect it from wet conditions to ensure that the bat you love lasts longer.
Image Courtesy – espncricinfo, the hindu , hdwallpapers, sidscorp
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