I’ve already walked you through the process of knocking in a cricket bat but there is a series of aftercare procedures that everyone should look at. This is your most expensive and valuable piece of equipment and it deserves to be looked after properly. Cricket bat care is essential!
Cricket Bat Care and Maintenance
Here are five pieces of advice once the initial knocking in stage has been completed.
- Protect with Taping, Scuff Sheet and Toe Guard
- Avoid Wet, Damp and Hot Conditions
- Respect the Bat!
- Oil Regularly
- Store Appropriately
Combined, they spell the acronym PAROS: It might not be the snappiest term around but somehow I think that makes it easier to remember. Here are the steps in greater detail.
1. Protect Your Cricket Bat
Fortunately there is a range of useful equipment that can give the bat added protection and the good news is that none of these are expensive. I’d recommend investing in the following:
- Cricket Bat Toe Guard
- Anti Scuff Sheet
- Cricket Bat Edge Tape
The toe of the bat can be the most vulnerable area and prone to cracking and splitting if not looked after properly. Some bats come with toe guards already fixed but they may still need replacing after time.
If you want to put a new toe guard on your cricket bat, simply take the toe, rub the bat with some fine sandpaper and apply synthetic adhesive before glueing together.
The anti scuff sheet does exactly as it states and can stop the face of the bat from scuffing while in use. Fitting the sheet is actually quite a complex process so I’d recommend watching some video guides in full. Essentially, you have to spread out the sheet on a flat surface, lay the bat face down on top, and trace and cut around it.
This may be time consuming but it will definitely be worth it.
Fortunately, applying cricket bat edge tape is a more simple task. Like the toe, the edges can be vulnerable so I’d suggest carrying out this quick and simple process. Just cut the tape into strips, peel off and apply.
2. Avoid Extreme Elements
The willow that is used in the bat making process is a natural product and, as such, you should avoid extreme conditions. Storing your bat in conditions that are too hot could make the wood warp while cold and damp conditions can make it crack and split.
As a village cricketer, I used to play in the rain quite often as teams were desperate for points and to get a game in. If the bat gets wet under any circumstances, make sure that you dry it immediately.
Even in English weather, I could play in hot and humid conditions at times but you’re not out long enough to damage a bat in these situations. What you should avoid, for example, is leaving the bat exposed in a car on a hot sunny day. Just a few hours of this could destroy the bat beyond repair.
This is particularly important over the winter when the bat is not in use. Store it in cool (not too cold) and dry conditions.
3. Respect the Bat
We all get a little frustrated when we’re out and, when there’s been a bad umpiring decision or we’ve played a poor shot, it can be tempting to take it out on our equipment. The simple advice is – please don’t throw your bat around! If you’re really that angry then throw a pad instead as it will do less damage.
There are other points to keep in mind on the subject of respect: Only use top quality cricket balls (or training balls in a practise situation). I’ve known people to hit hockey balls around and that’s a definite ‘no’.
Many value their precious cricket bat just as others do their cars. Thus, they like to keep them clean and new-looking. If you want to remove ball marks from your cricket bat, a good tip to is to get some nail polish remover. It’s very cheap to buy or you can borrow some from a female member of the family. Get a cotton wool pad, dab a small amount of liquid onto that pad and rub the bat very lightly.
4. Oil and Inspect the Bat Regularly
I talked about how important it is to oil the bat when you buy it from new. Coating is vital at that opening stage but you shouldn’t stop oiling your bat as soon as it is match ready. Over time, the surface can dry and a quick additional coat can restore the moisture.
I’d recommend an oiling ahead of the close season, even if you are sporadically using your bat in the winter nets. Over an extended period of inactivity, the wood can dry out leading to potential cracks and splits.
One final thought: Consider changing that scuff sheet from time to time. It, too, can get worn out and become less effective when it’s used extensively.
5. Store Appropriately
Whether you’re shutting down for the winter or just putting your bat away at the end of the weekend’s play, storage is the last part of this process. It’s no less important, however, and proper care should be taken to make sure your bat is pristine when it comes to picking it up once again.
Bats should always be stored horizontally and attention should be paid to those external conditions. Make sure that you find a dry place that is neither too hot nor too cold. Consider a bat cover which is another inexpensive option. Make sure that the cover is a good, tight fit and can keep out any potential moisture.
My full guide to preparing a bat after you’ve first acquired it is one of the most important sections of this site. However, please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the process is finished once that bat is match ready.
We need to keep treating our bat with the respect that it deserves and that means paying attention to storage and treatment while in use. Oiling isn’t a one-off process that stops at the beginning so remember to keep that up – especially in the winter. Storage is important while there are several, inexpensive pieces of equipment that can help you take great care of your bat.
Look after your equipment and it will give you the optimum chance of playing at your best.