Cricket bat

Cricket bat

A cricket bat is used by batsmen in the sport of cricket. It is usually made of willow wood.

Shape

This specialised bat is shaped something like a paddle, consisting of a padded handle similar to - but sturdier than - that of a tennis racquet, which is usually cylindrical in shape. This widens into the blade of the bat, a wider wooden block flat on one side and with a V-shaped ridge on the other to provide greater air flow in the follow through and greater strength to the over-all bat. The flat side (the front of the bat) is used to hit the ball. The point at which the handle widens into the blade is known as the shoulder of the bat, and the bottom of the blade is known as the toe of the bat.

The bat is traditionally made from willow wood, specifically from the Cricket-bat Willow (Salix alba var. caerulea), treated with linseed oil. This wood is used as it is very tough and shock-resistant, not being significantly dented nor splintering on the impact of a cricket ball at high speed, while also being light in weight. It incorporates a wooden spring design where the handle meets the blade. The rules of the game limit the allowable size for a bat as not more than 38 in (965 mm) long and the blade may not be more than 4.25 in (108 mm) wide. Bats typically weigh from 2 lb 8 oz to 3 lb (1.1 to 1.4 kg) though there is no standard. The handle is usually covered with a rubber or cloth sleeve to enhance grip and the face of the bat may have a protective film.

Modern bats are usually machine made, however a few specialists still make hand-made bats, mostly for professional players.

History

Bats were not always this shape. Before the 18th century bats tended to be shaped similarly to how hockey sticks are currently shaped. This may well have been a legacy of the game's reputed origins. Although the first forms of cricket are lost in the mists of time, it may be that the game was first played using shepherds' crooks.

Until the rules of cricket were formalised in the 19th century, the game usually had lower stumps, the ball was bowled underarm (whereas now it is bowled overarm except on very rare occasions), and batsmen did not wear protective pads, as they do nowadays. As the game changed, so it was found that a differently shaped bat was better. The bat which is generally recognised as the oldest Bat still in existence is dated 1729 and is on display in the Sandham Room at the Oval in London.

Knocking in

Most bats, when first purchased, are not advised to be used straight away. They often include a small manual advising, for the safety of the bat, to knock in the bat by hitting the surface with a cricket ball or a special bat mallet first. This compacts the fibres within the bat and protects the bat from snapping which would often be the case should the bat not be knocked in. It is advised by many cricket bat manufacturers, including Gray-Nicholls, Puma AG and Kookaburra Sport, that the time spent knocking the bat in should be around 3 to 6 hours. However it is worth it, as the bat becomes more controllable, manipulative of the ball and provides the user with more power. Some bats, however can be purchased pre-knocked (in meaning that in the bat's creation the bat has already been knocked). The price is higher but saves the owner a lot of time.

These bats are said by most to have a negligible improving effect upon a given innings, but their main purpose is to increase the comfort and confidence of the batsman and to promote the quality and range of bats from their manufacturer. The Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee attempted to use an aluminium metal bat, but any improvement upon the traditional willow could not compensate for the noise it made when it impacted upon the ball. The rules of cricket as of 2008 stipulate that the blade of a bat must be made solely of wood. More recently than Dennis Lillee, Ricky Ponting used a bat (the Kookaburra kahuna icon) with a carbon composite 'meat' (the large protruding area of wood out the back face) but the bat was altered by Kookaburra in conjunction with the ICC's demand.

Gray-Nicolls and Puma have created bats with lightweight carbon handles so that more weight can be used for the blade. The bats are the Gray-Nicolls Fusion, Matrix and Powerbow, and the Puma Stealth.

Custom made

These days it is possible to buy cricket bats custom made by podshavers from smaller companies. The prices for custom bats are usually lower than those of large brands, yet the bats are of much better quality. The willow from custom manufacturers is usually of higher quality than those of the big brands such as GM and GN. Because these smaller manufacturers are not making hundreds of bats a week, they can afford to give customers the best quality willow. Furthermore, the buyer can choose from many options such as weight, bow, middle position, handle shape, and much more.

In Popular Culture

Paul McCartney is expecting a Cricket Bat to arrive in the post in the video for his hit single "Dance Tonight". Upon opening the parcel however, he discovers it is in fact a mandolin.

In the film Shaun of the Dead, the hero Shaun uses a cricket bat as a weapon against the undead.

References

External links

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