When anyone purchases a new cricket bat, there is a desire to get out onto the field and use it as soon as possible. It is, however, important to understand that knocking in a bat ensures that the bat is fully prepared before it connects with the ball in order to avoid damage.
Your bat may well need knocking in and, if that is the case, please read on.
Why do You Need Cricket Bats Knocked-In?
When a new cricket bat is delivered, the wood is effectively in its soft, natural state. Knocking-in a bat simply helps the fibres of the willow to compress and knit together. The result is a much tougher piece of wood which is far more durable and resistant to damage while it is in use.
Some bats come ‘pre prepared’ but they will still need some knocking-in before they are used in the nets or in a match situation. Others have no preparation at all and they will therefore require the full ‘knocking-in’ process. Your merchant site should make it clear as to whether there has been any preparation so please ask customer services if there is any doubt.
Cricket bats are traditionally made from willow wood which is soft and fibrous. It offers the perfect weight and balance for use in the game but its soft nature means that it can be susceptible to damage if it isn’t treated properly. In this article, I will show you how you can make sure yourself, that your new bat is ready to get on the field.
Oiling and Care
Oiling is the first stage in the cricket bat preparation process. This keeps moisture within the fibres and helps to prevent splitting and cracking. Raw linseed oil is traditionally used in the oiling process.
It is important not to apply too much oil, so an initial light coat should be applied, using a cloth, to the face, edges and toe (note: if you are not familiar with the specific cricket bat parts yet, you should definitely read through our guide first). Avoid the splice and any stickers. Leave to dry for 24 hours in a horizontal position and then wipe away any oil that hasn’t been absorbed. At this point, rub the bat gently with very light sandpaper before applying one more fine coating of oil.
Note: If you want to apply new stickers to your bat, do it after the knocking-in process!
Storage is also important in these early stages and it’s imperative to avoid damp conditions.
How to Knock in Your Cricket Bat?
With oil applied, it’s time to start knocking in your bat. A bat mallet is a useful tool in this respect but it’s also perfectly OK to use an old cricket ball. The bat should then be struck with the mallet or an old ball, lightly at first before gently increasing the force.
It’s important to cover all areas where the bat is likely to connect with the ball so you should start with the face of the bat. Begin with gentle tapping and then gradually increase the force. Hit the bat firmly, but not too aggressively.
Move on to the edges of the bat but do not apply excessive force here as this is where the wood can be at its most brittle. Finally, move on to the toe of the bat and repeat the process. Do not hit the back of the bat.
How do I Know When My Bat is Knocked-In?
After this opening stage, the user can, either in the nets or in an outdoor area, hit short balls lightly on the face. If there are seam marks, they should repeat the above steps.
If there are no marks on the bat, the bat should be sufficiently knocked-in.
How Long Should You Knock-in a Cricket Bat?
The knocking in process should take around six hours to complete. This doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting but the quicker the better in terms of getting ready for match situations.
Can You Knock-in a Cricket Bat Too Much?
It’s difficult to knock in a bat too much but it isn’t, in theory, impossible. Over hitting with a mallet or a leather ball could cause the fibres to compress too much and they might lose any natural spring.
However, it would take many hours to reach this point.
Playing in Your Bat
Knocking-in is the first step in the process but a new bat isn’t quite ready yet. The next stage is known as playing-in and this is where the bat mirrors a match scenario. It’s perfectly OK to head into the nets and face regular bowlers but a softer cricket ball should be used. One of the many training balls that cricketers use is perfect for this scenario.
The batsman should avoid serious pace at this stage but seam bowlers and spin bowlers are perfect for this task. Play in a defensive way to begin with and note whether or not the seam has left any marks on the surface of the bat.
If there are any seam marks, it’s necessary to return to the beginning and start the knocking-in process all over again. If there are no marks, the batsman can start to play in a more expansive and attacking manner. If there are no seam marks on the bat after receiving more deliveries over several minutes, the bat should now be ready to use. It’s now acceptable to put it in your bag and take it to the match.
Bats are vital pieces of equipment and they can be the most expensive item in a player’s bag. Because of that, they must be treated with great care and the knocking process is simply vital.
Inadequate preparation can irreparably damage the bat so it’s imperative that the procedure is followed in order to ensure that this essential equipment is in optimum condition when it enters the field of play.