It is tedious, but the best thing you can do for your new bat is to knock it in carefully. We are outlining the optimum method for doing so to ensure maximum life and performance from your bat.
Cricket bats break! All Matrrixx bats are made from naturally air-dried seasoned English willow. The quality of the bat you have purchased will be greatly enhanced by the initial care and treatment you give it. It is an irony of bat making that the better the performance of the willow the more likely it is to last a shorter time than a cheaper alternative.
There are three essential ingredients to the manufacture of a top quality cricket bat:
- The quality of the willow cleft from the supplier
- The skill of the batmaker in combining this willow and the handle to produce a bat with excellent pick-up and balance.
- The pressing of the willow.
Willow clefts are sold in different grades, principally on their cosmetics, number of grains and the straightness of those grains. Regardless of the grade all Matrrixx bats are made to Test match Standard and quite often some of the bats made from lower grade clefts outperform the top grade ones. The batmaker is the first to see the ‘face’ of the bat. He will then determine what grade the willow should be used for from experience and eye. Once graded, the willow is then mechanically pressed accordingly. At Matrrixx, the willow receives a relatively light pressing which allows the fibrous willow to retain its spring or ‘ping’, heavier pressings compact the wood which makes it harder, and so more durable, but reduces the natural spring in the wood that makes it so good for striking a ball.
As such, pressing is a compromise between maximizing the blade’s performance against ensuring the bat lasts a reasonable amount of time. Some professionals use bats that are hardly pressed at all – this results in top performance but will give the user just 250 odd runs and a couple of practice sessions! Fine, when somebody else is paying for your bats!
Some bat sellers offer a ‘knocking in and oiling service’. The oiling is obvious, the knocking in simply re-pressing the bat, which if you have purchased an expensive bat negates the whole point. Making the willow harder serves only to reduce performance from that willow – just buy a cheaper bat!
First, oil the bat. Don’t be tempted to use too much, little and often is the mantra here. Sometimes, particularly on heavy bats, you can actually see the willow sucking up the oil. Stick to a tablespoon! Give the blade a day or two between oiling (around a tablespoon is plenty) and always leave the bat horizontal after oiling, in a cool place. At no time during a bats life should it be exposed to heat, this will dry the blade, promoting cracking. Never leave near a heater. And the very worst thing, and lots of cricketers do it, is to leave the bat in the boot of the car during the summer. Don’t.
Before knocking in, apply two coats with a day (or more) between to the edges, the toe and carefully to the shoulders. Being the cut across the grain, the toe and shoulder soak oil in to the blade quickly. Oil here will effectively seal and protect the bat from moisture, after heat the most hazardous substance to the life of a bat.
The key is to knock in the edges and toe well, harden these vulnerable area’s whilst retaining the ‘ping’ in the middle, where you will want it. A bat mallet is best. Firstly, knock in edges very, very gently. Some models have quite sharp edges and these must be rounded very carefully all the way along both sides of the bat including the shoulders. Gently.
Likewise the front edge of the toe. Once this is complete, start about an inch in from the edge and methodically make contact with the face gradually more firmly until you no longer can see the indent of the mallet on the blade when you strike it. Do this up and down both edges from an inch in to the edge. This effectively will have knocked your bat in and reduced potential damage without compromising on the blade’s performance. The middle should receive a gentle knocking in, as it will be subjected to force from the cricket ball on contact. A good indicator is to bounce a ball on, or play some gentle shots with the bat and an old, good quality ball. If the seam of the ball can be seen on the blade, you are not finished!
Oil lightly roughly once every six weeks thereafter in the season, and once before off season storage – in a cool place! A garage is perfect for this purpose.
We recommend a toe guard and anti-scuff sheet strongly. We of course want you to enjoy your bat’s performance and maximize its useful life. A Test or Grade 1 model properly looked after will give you around 1000 runs and associated net practice, Grade 2 a little more.
You just need to perform the tasks above and be patient and watchful. If you do the above as laid out your bat will last longer and perform better than an equivalent that isn’t prepared properly.
Toe guards now are completely unobtrusive and you will forget its there. It is a must to prevent dampness from the pitch soaking up the blade. Anti-scuff sheets are very tough, but thin, it will save the blade from abrasion off the cricket ball, and bind the surface further protecting the edges without restricting the bat’s performance. Both items will go a long way to maximizing your bats life. Any bat from Matrrixx is a quality item, and should be cared for. Look after it, and enjoy it.