How to choose the Best Cricket Bat? | str8bat
Choosing a cricket bat can be a tiresome exercise. Different people have different opinions. Many times, people are influenced by a peer group and buy the wrong cricket bat.
A bat that meets one player’s needs will not necessarily fulfill another person’s demands. The differences among cricket bats are beyond color and shape. As we go ahead, you will realize the challenging part starts with self-analysis.
Let me take the cricket bat selection guide ahead with a recent incident.
One of my friends wanted to buy a Mongoose cricket bat for his 9-year-old son. While enquiring the basis of his selection, I learned about his fandom for Kapil Dev.
Kapil Dev used to hit boundaries with the Mongoose, so my friend also wanted to give his son the same bat.
See where my friend was wrong?
I leave this puzzle to you. I am sure, in the end, you will know the answer.
Selecting a Cricket Bat – Factors to consider
1. Skill level of batter:
Not all the batters share the same skill set and level of expertise. Some are amateur or beginners, while some excel in technique and are professional batters.
As the level of expertise is different, so will be the intended use.
Armateur batters: An armateur batter can buy a basic bat or training bat. Inexpensive, simple bats are a good option for them. Many amateur batters do not use their bats regularly. Thus, it is not advisable to invest in costly cricket bats, which they will rarely use.
Beginners: Beginners attend the academy and learn cricket basics. Such students are unsure about their batting style, so investing in a good training bat can be a good option.
Expert batters: On the other hand, expert batters have their defined playing style. They also know to play various shots and with a solid grip on the bat. Such people should go for a professional and expensive bat.
2. Budget for the cricket bat:
Budget is an important decision factor. The world’s most expensive cricket bat costs around INR 83 lacs, and Mahender Singh Dhoni owns it. Apart from this, Virat Kohli’s bat costs between INR17000 to INR 23000.
Both players are established players. But for the masses, budget plays a decisive role. Kids who attend academies or at a beginner level need not invest in expensive bats as they literally outgrow their bats soon. So a costly investment doesn’t make sense.
Same if you are an expert batter but play on weekends, so a good and reasonable buy will serve your purpose.
But professional players should go for good and expensive cricket bats. Although bats don’t add any additional skill to a batter’s technique, they can surely help a batter play better.
3. Size of the Cricket Bat:
Just think about your first cricket bat. Was it of full length? Wasn’t it smaller in size?
Bats come in various sizes. Here are cricket bat size details.
Bat speed and the power it generates help batters to play well. But if a young player takes a wrong size bat, his or her whole gameplay will be affected.
So young batters must choose bats as per their height. Adding the right size of Armor in your inventory will always be a winning bet at the budding level.
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4. Weight of the cricket bat
Cricket bats come in different weights and sizes. Although while crafting a bat, its weight is kept per its height. But still, an ideal bat size can feel heavier to certain batters.
To be precise, there is no standard rule on ideal cricket bat weight. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar used to play with a heavier bat. As per him, the cricket bat works as an arm extension while hitting a shot. So, for him, his heavy bat weight was not adding any hindrance in his performance; instead, it acted as an extension.
No one can guide you about your ideal cricket bat. It will be you only who can understand it well. Our advice will be to go to the store and try some shadow shots with different bats. The bat swing should be natural, lighter, and effortless while playing a shot.
Is that enough? Will a lighter feel be the critical parameter to select the bat’s weight?
The answer is NO.
A heavy bat affects speed, swing as well as impact. A lighter cricket bat creates a lighter impact on the ball. So there are chances that the batter ends up hitting weak shots. If, on a scale of three, your bat fails on the 3rd parameter – then explore more options.
Ideally, young batters go for lighter weight bats. It is not advisable to take an extra load of heavier bat while just making yourself familiar with batting techniques. But as they become confident enough to hit shots freely, they can start trying heavier bats.
5. Type of ball used in gameplay
One of the reasons for cricket’s popularity is gameplay. Not only in cricket stadiums, but people also play cricket in gullies, parks, nooks, and corners of the country. And same is the case with the ball they use.
Some play with rubber balls, some with tennis, foam, or leather. So, while selecting a cricket bat, the type of cricket ball you will use, should be taken into consideration.
For tennis ball gameplay, you should use a lighter cricket bat. But if you play with a leather cricket ball, then using a heavier cricket bat is a good option.
The leather cricket ball is heavy, so the batter must exert more force to direct it in the desired trajectory. Such a force will come easier with heavier bats.
6. Pickup of the Cricket Bat
The weight of the bat is distributed all across it. The weight distribution directly impacts the pickup of the bat. Equal or balanced weight distribution will give a lighter feel to the batter.
So even if two bats weigh the same, that doesn’t mean they will feel the same to the batter. A good bat choice should provide a light pick up.
7. Sweet spot and pitch conditions in a cricket bat
Not all pitch conditions are the same, so is the sweet spot on the cricket bat. The sweet spot is where the bat blade is thicker than the rest of the area. The sweet spot is considered the best spot to hit the ball.
A shot hit through the sweet spot gives nearly zero vibrations to the batter, and the ball travels faster in the hit direction. The more the batter hits shots from the sweet spot, the better his technique is.
Surprisingly not all bats have sweet spots at the same area. Some bats have sweet spots on the lower side, some in the middle.
Batters who generally play on bouncy pitches prefer to have higher sweet spots. This will give an extra chance for the ball to connect with the best part of the cricket bat. However, a batter who plays on the slow pitch would like to opt for a lower sweet spot bat.
So, if you play cricket regularly, you need to keep the location of the sweet spot in the back of your mind.
8. English Willow or Kashmir Willow Cricket Bats
Willow is the timber that is used in making a cricket bat. There are two types of willows – English Willow and Kashmir Willow.
English willow is superior for its durability, lightweight features, and reliability. But English Willow is more expensive than Kashmir Willow.
Beginners or young batters can start with Kashmir willow, as they are economical comparatively. As young batters grow in their game, and in height, they can at any time opt for English Willow. But to start with, Kashmir willow is an ideal choice.
Another essential thing to consider is the grading system of willow. If not, then all willow bats will be priced the same.
Each type of willow has a quality grade from 1 to 5. The willow with grade 1 will be considered the best in quality.
So even if you are taking a Kashmir Willow bat, not necessarily all bats will be of the same quality level, as will reflect in their price.
Now I am covering three more important factors that apply to regular or professional batters only
Batting style of batter
Batters have different batting styles. So, to make their bat style appropriate, batters apply knowing techniques. But some bats can remove knocking exercises completely.
Suppose the batter primarily plays drive shots like the straight drive, or the front foot drive. Such a batter should go for a bat that’s heavier at the bottom. It means the bat’s sweet spot will be towards the lower end of the bat. As a result the drive shots will feel smoother off the bat.
In the same way, front foot batters prefer bats with a sweet spot in the middle.
Batters who play aggressive shots or shots like pulls or cuts prefer to play with bats which have their sweet spot higher up.
Cricket Bat Handle
A batter should have a comfortable grip to control the bat with ease. There are two types of bat handles – Oval and round.
Oval handles are strong and give directional comfort to the batter. But many batters do not find this bat comfortable as it is challenging to get a good grip on oval handles.
Technically the bottom hand provides strength to the shot, whereas the upper hand controls the direction. So in the case of an oval handle, the strength part is a bit difficult to sustain.
Bats with round handles are ideal for power hitters. With good grip power, hitters can easily exert force on their shots.
Regulatory instructions on cricket bat
A professional batter needs to consider board or MCC guidelines while selecting a bat. There is a law 5 by MCC that talks in detail about bat standards.
5.7.1 focuses on the length of the bat. After insertion of the lower portion of the handle, the length of the bat should not be more than 38 inches or 96.52 cm.
5.7.2 briefs about dimensions of the blade
- Width: 4.25in / 10.8 cm / 108 mm
- Depth: 2.64in / 6.7 cm / 67 mm
- Edges: 1.56in / 4.0cm / 40 mm
The MCC of 2017 guides regarding bat thickness say the same as well. So, it’s ideal to test a bat by passing it through the bat gauge. This will be a standard practice other than providing width, depth, and edges specifications.
5.7.3 talks about the length of the bat handle. As per guidelines, bat size six or less, bat handle should not exceed 52% of the overall length of the cricket bat.
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Winding up by stating an incident.
The history of the 1771 incidence of Monster Bat is worth remembering about guidelines for selecting a bat.
Once a batter took strike with a monstrous bat. Monstrous it was, so broad that it was covering all wickets with its blade. But that is history now, and let’s keep it that way only.
By now, you would be familiar with the pros and cons of bats available in the market. So best of luck, get the right bat, and take stance. The umpire is waiting to start the match.