Once you've purchased the right cricket bat to suit your needs, the next step is to prepare it for use and to learn how to maintain it. There are two steps to preparing a cricket bat, oiling and knocking it in. Take a look below at the step by step guide to these two processes.
Oiling a cricket bat
It's important to oil your cricket bat before use as manufacturers have reported that more than 50 per cent of bats returned to them for repair have not been sufficiently oiled or over-oiled. Follow the steps below to obtain the right balance.
- Using a soft rag, apply a thin coat of oil to the face, edges, toe and back of the bat - it is very important not to over oil.
- After application, leave the cricket bat in an horizontal position to dry for at least 12 hours. After this time, you can apply a second coat following the same directions as above. Leave the bat again for a further 12 hours.
- Your cricket bat is now ready to be knocked in. Try to oil your bat regularly to keep the fibres of the wood supple and prevent the bat from cracking.
- If your cricket bat already has an anti-scruff cover, the face of the bat will not need oiling but the back will.
Knocking in a cricket bat
Knocking in your cricket bat is an essential part of its preparation - all cricket bats perform better once they have been knocked in. The edges, toe and blade all need to be well knocked in to withstand the impact from a cricket ball, to prevent breakages and damage to the bat. The knocking in process cannot be rushed and must be carried out carefully, to ensure the wood of the bat is compact, so the fibres are compressed and knitted together.
- Using a specialist hardwood bat mallet, gently strike the face and edges of the bat to harden and round these areas (similar to the impact of a cricket ball in a game). Take care not to hit the edges, toe or back of the bat directly to avoid unnecessary damage.
- Repeat the above process several times, gradually increasing the power of your blows.
- After you've spent a minimum of 2-3 hours knocking in your cricket bat, you can then test it at the nets by hitting some short catches using an old cricket ball. If seam marks or small indentations appear on the face, you will need to continue the process for a longer amount of time. Most cricket bats can take up to 4 hours to be fully knocked in.
- After a few net practice sessions, your bat should be ready to use in a competitive game.
We recommend applying fibre tape to the edges of your bat and an anti- scuff sheet for further protection. You can also add a protective cover to the bat which should be positioned approximately 3-5mm from the toe of the bat, with the cover running up the face of the cricket bat and finishing just below the bat manufacturers labels.
Pre-knocked in bats
Bats that stipulate they are already 'knocked in' still require some care and attention before they are ready to be used in a match. However, the process will be shorter as you can avoid using a bat mallet, and move straight onto net practice using an old cricket ball, to knock in the face further and improve the bat's overall performance.
- Inspect your bat regularly for early signs of damage or dryness due to lack of oil. This will prevent it from breaking prematurely.
- Use high quality cricket balls when practicing to avoid damage.
- Avoid getting the toe of the bat wet during practice or in matches.
- During the cricket season, make sure you sand the blade and edges of your bat twice, then apply with a light coating of oil. In addition, if cracks appear on the face and edges, sand them out and apply oil.
- Damage to a cricket bat can occur at any point due to misuse, mistimed strokes, incorrect storage, lack of maintenance, use against sub standard cricket balls and use in wet conditions. If damage appears on the bat, it should be referred immediately for a repair.