How to choose the right cricket bat | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to choose the right cricket bat

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Today's guest post is from Anthony Jenkins

Cricket bats are available with a wide range of features, and choosing one is a very personal decision. There are no right or wrong bats, just the one that feels right for you. Of these features, size and 'pick-up' or 'feel' are particularly important.

The top of the bat handle should reach the top of a player's thigh, allowing him to take guard with his weight evenly balanced on both feet, and with his eyes level facing the bowler.

The weight of cricket bats varies from around 1lb 11oz for the smallest junior bat to 3lb 4oz for the heaviest full size bat, though anything over 3lb takes considerable strength to wield.

However, the ease of 'pick-up' of a bat while batting is more important than its absolute weight, and depends on both the bat size and how the weight is distributed around the blade. Different batsmen prefer different 'pick-up', so its important to get the feel of several bats before making a choice.

Pick-up affects bat control, which must be exercised only by the batsman's 'top hand' on the bat handle – this is the left hand for a right handed batsman. If he can't play strokes with his top hand alone then the bat is too heavy; his technique will suffer and frustration will follow. It is particularly important for junior batsmen to avoid this, so that they learn the right technique and enjoy batting.

Other features affecting a bat's performance and balance are slight curvature of the bat face to bring the point of impact with the ball below the batsman's eyes, and bat handle technology and varying handle thickness that gives each model a different feel and flexibility.

Cricket bats are made of willow, a soft fine grained wood. Look for 7 or 8 straight grains in the willow across a bat's face for the optimum sensitivity and durability. Fewer grains are more durable but less sensitive, more grains are more sensitive and less durable.

Before use, untreated new bats need oiling lightly with raw linseed oil, then, 'knocking in' with an old ball or a bat mallet, to compress the fibers of the willow on the face and edges in preparation for hitting a hard cricket ball. Knocking in a new bat can take several hours.

However, many new bats are now pre-knocked in and oiled, with a clear anti-scuff cover applied to face and edges to improve durability. These bats only need around 45 minutes to one hour of knocking in, and a light covering of oil on uncovered parts of the blade. Another addition might be a rubberized toe guard, to prevent damp seeping into the willow. These extras are good news for all players, especially young ones who will be keen to use their new bat as soon as possible.

Most cricket bat manufacturers use a star rating system to indicate the quality of a bat – the more stars, the better the quality of the willow and/or the level of technology of the bat. However, top of the range bats are unnecessary for most players, so consider all the factors in this article before you part with your money!

Anthony Jenkins is a cricket player and coach, and has been involved with the game for over 4 decades. He manages a junior cricket team, and plays in the Shropshire cricket league. He also manages where you can read more of his work.

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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That's a good guide but a word about junior bats. Until you get to Harrow size (possibly size 6) their isn't really that much to worry about in terms of quality of wood or pick up.

I would suggest getting a bat that fits correctly and is light enough for the child to comfortably hold and move about with.

The easiest way to gauge the correct bat size is to do the following:

Put your bottom hand behind your back, then hold the bat with your top hand (as you normally would, i.e 2cm from the top of the handle). If you can fully extend your arm downwards without the bat hitting the ground hard and not bending the elbow, the bat is the right size. If you had to bend the elbow or it hit the ground with any force then it's too big.

Their are also some size charts over at simplycricket, but these are only rough guides.

A light bat is good for control. But playing strokes with one hand is not what really happens. I see too many youngsters practicing with one hand and wasting their time. Batting is a two handed skill. The bottom hand provides the direction and control while the top hand loads the body for the shot. Train the loading, i.e. use the top hand, with a light bottom hand grip to prepare for the shot and use both hands to play the ball.

While I agree that batting is about using 2 hands in harmony I don't think 1 hand practice is a waste of time. It's simply a matter of reverse chaining to show kids the importance of top hand control. I would focus on 2 handed training but certainly use 1 hand drills with kids who are 'tucked up' and not flowing through the shots or using a lot of bottom hand and hitting th ball in the air.

It's all about context.

david you forgot one of those autograph bats Smiling

and the comment about top hand control is true, but when the right side is stronger than the left considerably, how do you counter this if you are right handeD?

Do you mean the right hand stronger than the left hand?

When choosing a bat I often ask my colts to swing the bat with the their top hand and then stop the swing and hold the bat at the top of the arc. If they can not not do it or their hand/ wrist shakes with the strain, then this is a good sign that the bats is too heavy. Works for me.

Great tip Peter, thanks!

Can you elaborate it? Do you mean top of the arc is when both your top hand and the bat, aligned in one line, stays vertically upwards?

wanting buy a starter cricket set for my 13 year old, I dont want it too heavy and I do want it durable for the rainy weather and beach days. And what is size 4, 5 or 6 - he is a tall but skinny and slight of build - suggestions welcomed thanks