How to choose a cricket bat
BATS - THE INSIDE STORY
Cricket is a technical sport with technical products, but what do all the terms mean? The following is an insight into the ‘mysteries of cricket bats’ and will hopefully assist when selecting your cricket bat.
A. EDGE PROFILE
Massive ‘Big Edge’ profile which increases from the shoulders and maximises at the sweet spot, generating supreme balance with an extended sweet spot that covers the entire width of the blade.
B. SPINE PROFILE
Kookaburra’s ‘Super Spine’ profiles adopt traditional shaping characteristics which operate in unison with the ‘Big Edge’ profile of the bat – creating a huge apex, with unrivalled amounts of power throughout the length of the blade and exceptional ‘pick up’.
C. SWEET SPOT
The position in the blade where performance is maximised. Kookaburra bats are engineered to maximise the size of the sweet spot, allowing the middle of the bat to be spread further across the blade meaning that off centre strikes perform better.
In the quest to maximise profile, using scallops either side of the spine allow the apex to be extended without dramatically increasing weight. Scallops also maximise edge profile which reduces rotation of the blade in off centre hits, minimising power loss.
E. FACE PROFILE
The modern game revolves around the thickness of the blade:
1) Flat Face - levelling out the striking area allows more mass to be retained in the back of the bat, maximising the power profile.
2) Rounded Face – favoured by more traditional players, the slightly rounded face gives a familiar look but yields a less expanded profile.
The curve of the bat from the tip of the handle to the end of the toe. Designed to enhance the position of the hands by placing them ahead of the ball, which is essential for good stroke play.
WEIGHT & PICK UP - WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The ‘holy grail’ of bats is one with a massive profile and a very light ‘dead weight’ but this is exceptionally hard to find.
There is much discussion about heavier bats and massive edge profiles and how these will hit the ball further but we do not totally subscribe to that theory. Clearly, if you choose a lighter bat then you will most likely have to compromise slightly on the thickness of the profile and edge profile but this is not a problem. We all have different physiques and sizes and we strongly believe that to get the best performance out of a bat the most essential element is to choose one that feels the right weight for you, this will help you to time the ball better and ultimately make more runs!
It is interesting when a player stipulates that they must have an exact bat weight - if a 2lb 9oz and a 2lb 10oz bat weight were placed in front of the player, it is unlikely that they would be able to tell the difference. We feel ‘pick up’ is more important than ‘dead weight’ as the ‘pick up’ determines how the bat will feel in play – nobody can tell you what the right pick up is for you, or the exact weight you should use – it is a question of what feels right for you.
SHAPE & PROFILE - WHICH PROFILE IS BEST FOR ME?
It is often claimed that bats are specifically designed for either front or back foot play. In reality, although a shape can be better suited to the type of wicket you normally play on, we all have to play off both the front and back foot, so it is therefore best to choose the bat that just feels right for you.
All players differ slightly in the way they play and as such are likely to hit the ball in slightly different areas of the bat. Whilst it is impossible to cater for every impact area if you choose a bat whereby the wood is focused on your normal impact position,then this gives a better chance of finding the bat that will be right for you.
BAT GRADE & APPEARANCE
Bat prices vary significantly and are all effectively pieces of wood, but we would argue that a more expensive bat will perform better than a cheaper one (we would expect a bat made from grade 1 wood to perform better than a bat made from grade 3 wood for example). The potential performance of every Kookaburra hand-made bat is evaluated constantly throughout the manufacturing process by our Master Bat Makers – they evaluate the bat on the basis of how it ‘drives’ so you can be sure that the bat you choose is representative of the performance you can expect from the particular grade that you choose to buy.
In all our years experience of bat making we do feel that cosmetic appearance has little correlation with bat performance. It used to be felt that thin grain bats were the best performing bats but that is not necessarily the case and they can tend to break more quickly.
Whereas wider grained bats can perform just as well although they are slightly harder to start with, after playing in they were stronger pieces of willow. The number of grains in a bat is a much debated issue (a grain is regarded as a year in the life of a tree) and there was a school of thought that 8 straight grains on the face produced the perfect bat. However, over the years, willow has changed and the ever increasing demand for willow has created a scenario where trees reach maturity more quickly. This means there are fewer/wider grains, consequently the definition of grading and grains in a bat have evolved over the years. During the production process our bat makers will evaluate every cleft of wood to determine what model we should produce from it. You can be sure that the quality of the bat you get from Kookaburra is the best you can get from that particular quality of willow. In conclusion, the most important factor when choosing your bat is to ensure that it is the one that feels right for you. In order to maximise your performance it is important to consider what you want from your bat and how you play the game – the game is all about ‘timing’!! You do need to be realistic with your expectations as you cannot get an ‘8 star’ bat, for a ‘1 star’ price!!
The most expensive willow and arguably the best looking blade. There may be some red wood evident on the blade and generally there will be at least 6 fairly straight grains visible on the face. There may be a small knot or speck in the edge or back of the bat but the playing should be clean.
Excellent quality blade but usually more red wood may be visible than on a grade 1 which does not affect the playability of the bat. Similar number of grains to a grade 1 with potentially the odd blemish or butterfly in the grain on the face.
The most extensively used grade of blade which offers excellent value for money. A grade 3 blade may have up to half the face in a tint/red wood colour but this does not affect playability. This grade will have around 5 grains on the face that may not be that straight and there is likely to be some specks or butterfly marks on the grains on the face of the bat.
Usually over half of the blade may have a discoloured area but the product playability should not be affected. There are often only 4 grains and there are more butterfly stains and marks on the face of the bat.
This grade is produced during our production process and it is basically similar to a grade 4 but may have more stain in the wood so cosmetically will not look as good.
WHAT SIZE CRICKET BAT SHOULD I USE?
|4 ft and under||0|
|4ft - 4ft 3"||1|
|4ft 3 - 4ft 6"||2|
|4ft 6" - 4ft 9"||3|
|4ft 9" - 5ft||4|
|5ft - 5ft 3"||5|
|5ft 3" - 5ft 5"||6|
|5ft 5" - 5ft 7"||Harrow|
|5ft 9" - 6 ft
Sporting Edge has knowledgeable staff who are here to help pick the right bat for you.