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How to choose a cricket bat

Choosing a new cricket bat can prove to be a challenging exercise for most cricketers. You may receive different advice from your coach, parent, team mate, friend or retailer that leads to buying confusion.

The different grades and sizes can take you into a maze of conflicting information depending on who you listen to. I’ll try and clear that up for you and make some points that need to be considered when choosing your cricket bat.

Arguably the most important thing to remember when selecting a cricket bat, is that it is a very personal decision and it should not be based on what works for others. It should be what is best for you and your playing ability, ball striking, game improvement, strengths and if necessary budget.

Up to a point there are no right or wrong bats, the bat to choose is the one that feels most comfortable for you and that is the key point. It should be right for your game and this should be the key factor in your buying decision.

We notice online via social media or in-store many cricketers are attracted by the look of stickers (we call them decals) and this may not necessarily result in the correct purchase. We agree, a bat must look good visually however to name some bat shape, pick up, willow, bat finish, reputation, size, handle shape & bat preparation are also very important factors.

Let’s consider them and help you reach an informed decision;

BAT SHAPE

Critical when choosing your cricket bat is the bat shape and how this suits your game. GM produce a blade shape for every type of batsman. Low sweet spots for the front foot player, mid sweet spots for the all-round shot maker and higher sweet spots for strong bat foot play.

Consider the following;

  • Look at where you mostly strike the ball on your current bat and then match up this position with the bats you are considering purchasing. Does the sweet spot match with your hitting area? Does where you strike the ball mostly on your current bat match where the maximum swell on the blade is? It should for maximum performance.
  • Consider your batting strengths – choose a shape that fits your playing style.
  • Consider the wickets you play on – is the bounce low or high. Low is conducive to driving and high bounce to back foot play. Maybe, you’re good at both which gives you many shape choices.
  • Look at the bat dimensions of each model you are considering and compare including the volume. The volume may be a surprise on some bats.
  • Visual shape appeal – some bat shapes are more appealing to the eye. This can be very important for player confidence and should be a priority when choosing a bat.

PICK UP

  • The pickup of the bat is the way the weight is distributed through the bat. If it is balanced the pickup will be lighter than the actual weight and this is a key component of good bat making.
  • The pick-up is how it feels to you and not the scale weight because that is different and isn’t always a true indication of what is best for the player. WILLOW GRADE
  • Choosing a grade of Willow is not a perfect science. No two clefts of willow are the same, even from the same tree. However, to GM’s advantage is over 130 years of bat-making experience, combined with the most technologically advanced cricket factory in the world. This gives GM the confidence to display each grade of willow and the subtle but important differences between them.
  • Higher grades of English Willow historically have shown to be better performing than lower grades and are scarce hence the price variance across a bat range.
  • Across a yield of willow most of the blades will be Grade 3 or 4 with Grade 1 becoming very rare in recent seasons.
  • Higher Grades of willow does not equal more durability, purely a better performance.
  • Choose the piece of Willow that fits your needs and meets with the grade quality promised by the bat maker.


BAT FINISH

  • Not all bats are finished the same, look at the detail of the bats you are considering and the care taken by the manufacturer.
  • Look at the bat decals, are they of high quality that reflects your needs in a bat? Will they last or deteriorate quickly?

BRAND REPUTATION

  • Not all brands are the same, bat makers with a long cricketing heritage have significant bat making experience and this should be considered when choosing your bat. Without experience, it’s tough to be an expert in your field.
  • Most companies do not make their own bats and lose some control over the manufacturing process. It’s all in the detail.
  • For a consistent bat that you can trust be aware that cricket bat manufacturing history and investment in their own bat making facility helps in producing consistently the very best cricket bats.

BAT SIZE

  • Very important for young players especially, consideration needs to be given to bat size and the ability to maximise bat speed and power.
  • Pick the size bat that will help you be the best player you can be – too heavy and you will struggle with bat control the longer you are at the crease. Too light and you’ll lose power and feel – find the compromise when making your final decision.
  • Refer to Bat size charts online or at your local cricket retailer if needed.

BAT LAWS

Bat dimensions – the MCC have updated Law 5 which sets a maximum in bat blade dimensions. Here’s an insight into the law. Make sure your bat fits these laws.

5.7.1 The overall length of the bat, when the lower portion of the handle is inserted, shall not be more than 38 in/96.52 cm.

5.7.2 The blade of the bat shall not exceed the following dimensions:

  • Width: 4.25in / 10.8 cm / 108 mm
  • Depth: 2.64in / 6.7 cm / 67 mm
  • Edges: 1.56in / 4.0cm / 40 mm

Furthermore, it should also be able to pass through a bat gauge.

5.7.3 Except for bats of size 6 and less, the handle shall not exceed 52% of the overall length of the bat.

5.7.4 The material permitted for covering the blade in 5.4.1 shall not exceed 0.04 in/0.1 cm in thickness.

5.7.5 The maximum permitted thickness of protective material placed on the toe of the blade is 0.12 in/0.3 cm.

© Marylebone Cricket Club 2017

HANDLE QUALITY

  • It is not all about the blade, bat handles are not all the same. The handle construction of your bat needs to be considered with respect to the quality of willow you are buying.
  • Has your Grade 1 bat been fitted with a top quality, treble spring multi-piece cane handle or has the maker reduced this feature in the bat? Compare handles across the bats you are considering – it may change your decision.

BAT WEIGHT

  • When choosing a bat we believe given other factors are more important. Dead weight is just a measure and by no means reflects the same performance and feel for every bat.
  • Lower sweet spot bats ‘feel heavier’ and higher sweet spot bats pick up ‘lighter’ despite being the same weight. This is why ‘pick up’ is so important.
  • By defining your choice in bat by weight you limit yourself to finding the very best bat for you. Our advice, be open minded when considering weight and allow yourself a ‘weight window’ when making a buying decision.
  • Importantly, keep in mind GM Now, Oil & ToeTek adds weight to bats so consequently comparing a GM with a ‘Natural/Plain’ bat is not the same in-store. Add these to a ‘Natural/Plain’ bat later and you’re adding approx. 1.5 ounces.


BAT TAPPING

The tapping of a bat with a Bat Mallet or Ball is sometimes used to demonstrate how a bat will perform. This is used as a method for the cricketer to distinguish one bat from another when choosing a bat. With respect to those who use this method it is only ‘acoustics’ given sound travels faster than feel. The sound a bat makes when struck by a wooden mallet vs. a ball are different so be aware that the sound from a mallet or ‘ping’ as it is called is purely an opinion on what is the best choice bat and not a measurement of performance. If a bat sounds powerful to the ear it doesn’t mean it actually is nor is a poor sounding bat to the ear not a good playing bat. If you believe in this process this is ok but I wouldn’t base my decision on this method given other factors detailed are just as important.

BAT PREPARATION

Bat preparation is another subject we’ll expand upon in another post but still a very important part of choosing a bat that needs to be considered.

  • How this is done can be the difference between a good performing bat and a poor outcome.
  • If a bat has had some preparation I’d seriously consider it, bats with factory preparation have the very best chance of a long life given they have been prepared by cricket bat experts.
  • Be careful when knocking in a bat by machine – consider the number of hits quoted very carefully and question why so many.

Good luck on your bat choosing journey, there are many factors to consider. Choose wisely.

You might also be interested in: GM Cricket Bat Preparation | GM English Willow Bat Grading