Knocking in a Cricket Bat
A new bat is not ready for the onslaught. Prepare it well for a longer life and better performance. Here’s how.
Author – Amrita K
(Reading time ~ 3 mins)
Knocking in of a cricket bat is an essential process of preparing a bat to deliver better timing to your shots. While people mostly buy pre-knocked in bats, further knocking is recommended and hence it is essential to know the process. Knocking in can take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours depending upon the softness of your willow. Here is a step by step procedure.
You will need:
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The knocking in process starts with oiling your bat. Gently clean the surface of the bat using an 180-200 grit sandpaper. Once clean, you can either use raw linseed oil or specialized bat oil like extratec for the oiling. Simply take some oil and lightly rub against the front of the bat blade. Remember not to over oil the bat, just a thin cover is enough. It is best to use an open weave cloth or a wipe to spread the oil evenly on the bat. At the end, you should be able to see a thin film of oil that does not trickle down even if the bat is held standing up. Oil the sides and give a light oil cover on the back of the bat. Wipe off the excess oil immediately. Leave the bat horizontally overnight.
Repeat the procedure again the next day with lesser oil. Just give it a quick rub with a little oil using the same cloth as before. After this second application, leave the bat horizontally for 6 hours.
Once the two rounds of oiling are complete, you are ready to start the knocking in the procedure.
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Take a ball or a wooden cricket bat mallet. If you are using a ball, take the oldest leather ball available to you.
This process takes patience so turn on your favourite music or watch a movie while your hands are busy knocking in your new blade. If you are using linseed oil, it can take as much as 6 hours depending upon the softness of the willow. However, if you are using extratec, then you will take approximately 4 hours.
To start with, hit the mallet or the ball firmly against the bat face, enough to make a small dent but not any harder. After two hours, you may gradually hit harder and harder. Remember to hit all portions of the bat uniformly. Continue the knocking in process uniformly by starting with the edges and moving up and down the central blade. The lower middle portion of a cricket bat (between 10 to 30 centimetres) is mostly used to hit balls. However, do remember, it is not sufficient to concentrate on this portion only. You will have to knock in the entire bat uniformly. Do not knock on the back or the side of the bat.
For the edges, don’t use the hitting end of the mallet. Use the handle to roll, harden and prepare the edges instead. You can also use a stump for this purpose. To roll the edges, start with an angle closest to the blade and then move on to the portion where the angle will become 90 degrees. Continue this technique during the entire knocking in process increasing the pressure each time.
If you are using oil, after the 2nd hour and the 5th hours, oil the bat once more before commencing the knocking in process again. However, before oiling, don’t forget to sandpaper the bat again. In case you are using extratec, you need to oil the bat only once, after 2 hours of knocking. After the application of extratec, don’t roll the edges.
During the entire process, press your fingernail lightly against the bat every once in a while. At the beginning, this will leave a slight indent on the surface of the bat. However, as the process goes on, the bat will become harder and it will become difficult to make these marks.
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Once you complete the knocking in process, you have to check to see if the blade needs more oil. Run your thumbnail across the blade of the bat using a reasonable amount of pressure. If there is a little oil on your thumbnail, then the bat has enough oil. However, if this oil is not there, the bat needs oiling. Repeat this process of checking the oil on the bat every 3 to 4 weeks.
After knocking in the bat, first, use it in the net with an old ball before using it with a new match ball. A well knocked in bat usually lasts for about 1000 runs including net practice.
Knocking in increases the longevity of the bat by preventing it from cracking. It also improves the performance by improving the middle (sweet spot) of the bat making it bigger and better. Hence, the chances of the bat cracking is much lesser.
However, damage can never be eliminated since cricket is a sport which entails hitting hard a high-speed ball. Hence, if you see that your used bat already has developed cracks, then maybe your bat doesn’t need knocking in, it needs a replacement.
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