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Looking after your cricket bat
How Bats are Made
Slazenger Bats are made from Cane handles and willow blades. Slazenger’s new 9 piece handles are hand made in Barnsley and have been developed by master craftsman Eric Loxton and international stars including Mark Waugh. Using the finest Manou Cane they provide the perfect combination of stiffness and flexibility for optimum performance.
The wooden blades are made from either English Willow or Kashmir Willow.
The highest quality bats are made from English Willow as this wood combine’s lightness with good rebound properties. Due to these special qualities, English Willow bats are more expensive and need proper care BUT without doubt English willow gives the best performance.
Kashmir Willow is more economical but it is heavier and has less rebound than English Willow. It is however, tough and suitable for starter cricket bats.
Drying the Willow
Slazenger have improved the all-important drying process by investing in a fully computerised, state-of-the-art kiln. Slazenger made bats will be even better as a result, benefiting from improved blade durability, reduced cracking and uniform weight distribution, which only comes from this unique drying process.
It takes a skilled craftsman to turn the handle on the lathe, fit and glue it to the blade, and shape the blade using traditional tools. The skill of the bat making is mainly in the shaping and the pressing.
The Shaping of the Bat
Correct shaping of the bat ensures good balance and pick-up. This makes the bat feel light in the players hands. Pick-up is far more important than dead weight. 2lb 13oz bat can feel very light, if the bat maker has adjusted the balance point of the bat.
The Pressing of the Bat
This ensures maximum rebound of the ball off the blade. English Willow in its natural state is a soft fibrous wood. Slazenger season the willow before shaping and pressing the blade. At the pressing stage care is taken to strike a balance – the bat must be hard enough to withstand most impacts by a ball and yet soft enough to give good rebound of the ball on the blade. The softer the blade, the better the performance in terms of of rebound but the blade is prone to dent. The harder the blade the worse the performance, but the blade will be more durable. Even the medium pressed blade can still be damaged if the batsman digs out a yorker or edges the ball. No one has yet found a wood that gives good rebound performance and won’t indent if the ball is yorked or edged. Toe and edge damage to the bat is an inevitable part of cricket.
HOWEVER, SUCH DAMAGECAN USUALLY BE REPAIRED.
IT DOESN’T MEAN THE BLADE IS FAULTY.
Types of Finish
Several types of finish are available on different models.
The willow is not covered by polyarmour or face tape. Some lower grades of willows may be bleached but either way a very light application of linseed oil will help the bat last longer if it is knocked in correctly. (see later)
Clear Polyarmour Finish
Polyarmour is a varnish type finish, which gives initial protection. Polyarmour adds some strength to the blade and stops the wood getting dirty in store. However, remember that a clear Polyarmoured bat should be correctly and thoroughly knocked in. do not worry if the poly coating crazes or cracks during knocking in.
Face Tape Finish
Pro-Face tape is a clear self-adhesive film, which is applied in sheet form to the face and edges of the bat. It is widely used by test players because of easy maintenance. If face tape is applied only the toe of the bat needs alight coat of oil to prevent swelling due to dampness.
Even bats with Face Tape Finish need to be thoroughly knocked in. (see later)
Far too many bats coming back for repair have been over-oiled. There is a danger that you can damage the wood fibres by over oiling. It is better to under oil than too over oil. Polyarmour bats or bats with face tape do not need oiling other than perhaps a very light coat to the toe to avoid moisture getting in and causing the wood to swell.
How to Oil your Slazenger bat properly
1. Using a soft rag, apply a light coat of oil to the front, edges, toe and back of the bat blade. DO NOT OIL THE SPLICE AREA
2. Keep bat in a horizontal position.
3. After 2 weeks, lightly sand with very fine sandpaper and apply another light coat of linseed oil to the face, edges and toe. (not the back)
4. Repeat after 2 more weeks ensuring the bat is kept horizontal between oilings
5. Only use RAW LINSEED OIL.
Knocking in is the process by which the fibres of the willow blade are compressed and knitted together to help prevent damage from the impact of a cricket ball. This is best done, by using an old ball or bat mallet. It is not sufficient to hit a few balls in the nets or in the garden. Knocking in should be done in a patient manner and should take no less than 6 hours in total. To a large extent, the effective life of your of your bat is determined by the thoroughness of your knocking in process. You are trying to make the toe and edges in particular harder than when the bat was purchased, to minimise the damage from an edged stroke or when jamming down on a yorker.
How to Knock in your New Slazenger Bat Properly
1. Using an old ball or a bat mallet like a hammer and deflect gently off the edges, the way a ball might in a game
2. Increase the force and work the edges until they show a rounded, compact appearance.
3. Use the bat to hit short catches (ie very light work on the face) or bounce a cricket ball up and down on the face.
4. Use the bat in the nets against old softer balls.
5. Use the bat in the nets against newer balls.
Causes of Damage to your Bat
It is important to store your bat wisely to prevent the willow drying out and becoming brittle. Ideally you should store your bat in a garage or shed where the wood can absorb some moisture from the atmosphere.
DO NOT leave your bat close to a central heating radiator or fire.
DO NOT leave your bat in your car boot or rear window ledge where the temperature may soar.
Toe Swells due to dampness
When the toe of your bat swells this has been caused by water/dampness getting up into the wood fibres. Avoid this by doing one of the following:
1. Apply a light coat of oil to the toe before each game.
2. Use a sealant to prevent water penetrating.
3. Applying a toe guard before bat is used.
However if the toe of the bat has swollen there are two alternatives:
1. Place the toe of the bat in a woodworking vice, being careful to cushion both sides of the blade to prevent damage.
2. Allow the damp area to dry normally then use an old ball to knockout the swollen area.
Edge and Toe Damage
The majority of bats will be damaged if the batsman edges a quick ball or if they dig out a yorker. The bat must be put in for repair, as no willow will withstand such an impact. Knocking in properly however, will reduce the risk.
Willow is not manufactured. Surface cracks or crazing will appear on the face of all bats after a period of use. The knocking in period is vitally important in minimising surface cracks. Surface cracks do not harm the bats performance, but proper knocking in delays the appearance of these cracks. If the willow starts to lift away after a time, use a PVA water based glue and clamp back together. Sand the glued area with medium grade sandpaper. Applying a Pro Face Tape after repairing the lifting pieces is also an option.
“ Small marks and cracks appear on all my bats after light use. The performance of the bat is in no way affected by this”
Mark Waugh – Australian Test and One Day Player
If you have any questions at all, ask the staff.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Central Sports.