A bat is the most important, and usually the most expensive cricket purchase you will make. You should always take as many steps as possible to protect it from damage and increase its lifespan.
Many hours of work have gone into making your cricket bat and with a few simple procedures and a little time and patience, your bat can be even better for longer. Just follow the guidelines set out below.
If you have purchased an English willow bat it's not ready for use.
There are certain important procedures you must follow before your bat can be used. All natural blades require oiling and knocking in. Poly-coated blades require knocking in but not oiling. Only raw linseed oil or special bat oil should be used.
Please note - Gunn & Moore bats that display the 'GM Now! Ready to play now' stickers have been fully oiled, knocked in and sealed at the factory, and as the sticker suggests, are ready to play with immediately. However we still recommend some throw downs and/or a net against a soft ball to begin with.
Many other manufacturers have stickers and labels that say 'pre-prepared' 'pre-knocked in' or similar. This means some of the initial pressing
and knocking in has been done for you, but as they aren't brave enough to declare their bats 'ready to play now' this is a clear indication that more knocking in is required.
We offer a full knocking in service at Vitas Cricket. This is normally £20, but is available at £15 for any bat purchased from us. We will oil and fully knock-in your bat, then apply an anti-scuff sheet if you want one. Simply select the knocking in service you want and add it to your basket. The knocking in service can be found on the Bats main page.
If you wish to knock your bat in yourself, then don't forget to buy your bat mallet, anti-scuff sheet and linseed oil from us. Once you have got all the equipment you need, follow the steps below.
No bat should stand in oil; best results are achieved by more applications of light oiling than by one application of lots of oil.
There is a much greater danger from a bat being over oiled than under oiled. Over oiling adds weight to the bat which can spoil the pick up, remove driving power and can also cause 'wood rot'.
A new bat, irrespective of the finish should be knocked in carefully and with patience. This is best done by a bat mallet and hitting the blade repeatedly in all areas where the ball would be expected to make contact, paying special attention to the front edges. The knocking in should start off lightly and progress to harder hitting as you near completion. It is not sufficient to play a few gentle 'throw downs' in the nets or back garden. Take time and your bat will give a better performance and be less likely to suffer damage.
The knocking in process is intended to make the outside of the bat harder and therefore less prone to damage, whilst retaining the soft, springy, fibrous properties of willow underneath, providing that satisfying ping when you strike the ball.
When knocking in you should pay particular attention to the edges and toe as these are the most vulnerable parts of your bat. Strike the edges in a way that the ball will strike them when you 'nick' one through to the sips. You are aiming to deflect off the edge and ultimately round it off, meaning it is less likely to crack when you edge the ball for real.
When knocking in the face, simply strike the blade with the mallet, getting progressively harder over the course of the process. Every so often you should tap a few balls into the air or receive a few throw downs. Use these to check for seam marks. When the seam of a newish cricket ball is no longer making a mark on the face of your bat, your bat is ready to go!
Your cricket bat is ready for use after oiling and approximately 6 hours of knocking in for a brand new bat. For bats that claim to be 'pre-prepared' or 'pre-knocked-in' a shorter time of at least 1 to 2 hours is recommended.
Protecting and Caring For Your Bat
A clear self adhesive cover that provides the best possible protection from surface cracking and indentations. We recommend the use of a facing on your bat as it can vastly improve its lifespan. It helps protect the edges of the blade as well as the face by making them a sealed unit, removing the need for sanding down and oiling during the season apart from a light oil on the toe and back
This is a reasonably new development in the cricket equipment world; it is an easy to apply do it yourself system for both new and old bats. It helps to protect Yorker damage, splits, cracks, water damage and moisture at the toe of the bat. Most new bats now come with protect-toe as standard.
Moisture (e.g. water) should not be allowed to penetrate your bat, particularly at the base/toe of the blade as this can cause swelling and splitting of the willow.
Extreme heat should be avoided, e.g. car boots/interiors or utility rooms. Drying out will cause cracking and splits. Store in a moderate temperature to help preserve the condition of the willow.
Never allow someone else to borrow your bat! The majority of repairs done here at Vitas Cricket are to damage done to a bat that was not in it's owners hands at the time. Be selfish with your treasured possession, don't let someone else ruin it!
If no anti-scuff facing is applied, then during the playing season the face and edges of the bat should be given a rub down with some fine sandpaper and given a very light oil every 3 to 4 weeks.
English willow is by nature a soft fibrous timber. In normal usage, willow will become bruised, scarred or dented simply due to the nature of the game. Such marking can occur at any time during the lifetime of the bat, but will not affect its performance. English willow is the preferred timber for all cricket bats.
A substitute for English willow is Kashmir willow. This type of willow is much harder by nature but will not have the same performance as English willow, but is an ideal cheaper substitute for beginners to use as a starter bat. We do not stock Kashmir willow due to its inferior performance qualities, it is only available by request.
English willow is grown almost exclusively in the East of England. The reason for this is the temperate climate, wet winters and (mostly) dry summers which provide the perfect growing conditions for the specific species of willow that are used for Cricket Bats.
Buyer beware, the price of kashmir bats may be very tempting, but you will be disappointed with the playing characteristics. Most bats on ebay are Kashmir Willow, regardless of price, stickers or even the sellers claims.
Be particularly careful with anything labelled as English Willow Nurtured Abroad (EWNA) or English Willow Nurtured in India (EWNI) - it is not possible to grow English willow in a hot, dry climate such as India. Most of these types of bats will be made from Kashmir willow or a still vastly inferior hybrid species that has adapted to grow in dry conditions. The dry conditions produce a harder, more brittle bat which is prone to cracking/splitting as well as giving unsatisfactory performance.
Willow is a natural material and as a bat is used more and more, it is quite normal for the blade or face to develop slight markings. Surface cracking can appear in varying degrees depending on the type of willow, its maturity, and the standard of play it is used at. Superficial markings to the edges can also be expected as your bat will never stay pristine if you are scoring runs, after all that is it's job! Neither of these blemishes will affect the playing qualities and should not be regarded as a fault in the willow. Should severe indentations occur please contact us as soon as possible for further advice.
Vitas Cricket can contact your bat manufacturer in the rare event that you need your bat repaired. Should this be the case, manufacturers can offer a range of repairs from new handles to repairing splits. We offer a repair and refurb service ourselves, you may wish to consider this as an option if it is likely that your manufacturer is not going to be liable for your claim, eg damage caused by inaccurate play and/or misuse. In this case the manufacturer will still repair your bat, but at a cost to you. We can offer the same service but at a vastly faster turnaround as the manufacturers will be swamped with repairs during the season, a typical repair usually takes weeks.
Please click here for more information on our in house repair and refurb services.
If Damage Occurs
In the event of any serious damage to your bat you should withdraw the bat from play immediately and then contact us as quickly as possible, as further delay can increase the problem and cause it to become beyond repair.
All the manufactures have strict policies of inspecting all warranty claims. The claims will be assessed on fair wear and tear. Proof of purchase is required when making a warranty claim. Damage not covered by warranty: - Dampness or swelling of the toe - Edge or toe cracks caused by inaccurate play - Heat damage, dried out willow - Over oiling - Insufficient preparation or under knocking in