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Knocking In Your Cricket Bat.
Once you have purchased your brand new Cricket Bat you will be itching to use it straight away. It is human nature, just like playing a board game before reading the instructions. Unlike the board game though, it could lead to a very expensive mistake. The best time to buy a new bat, in the UK, is prior to Christmas, as there is generally no cricket to be played, unless you play indoor cricket. If you do play indoor cricket, you are best to use an old bat anyway. Try to buy one when you are not in mid season, as the temptation could be too great.
So you have unwrapped your new bat, now what?
Most manufacturers claim to have sold you a 'pre-knocked in' bat. This is a little mis-leading in most cases as they give the impression they are ready to use. This is definitely not the case. With adult bats ranging from £75 up to £450 it would be wise to give your bat some extra special care, to ensure it lasts and doesn't crack in its first season of use.
Even if your bat has bee pre-knocked in, it will do no harm to knock it in some more. The purpose of knocking in your bat is to compress the fibres within the face of the blade to give a solid but, giving surface.
Use a mallet, a purpose designed tool, that has a round head and is made of wood. Alternatively you could use a sports sock with an old cricket ball inside. Whatever you use it will still require up to eight hours of knocking in. Be patient and hope your family are supportive, if they complain about the constant tapping of the mallet to bat, suggest they lend a hand. Mine did and i can honestly say it was knocked in for 9 hours but, i only did 2 of them. How cool is that.
Never knock in the toe, the area around the handle (splice) or the back of the bat. These are parts of the bat you won't be hitting the ball with so, don't waste your time. Also if you start hitting around the splice, you could actually weaken the bat. Start by tapping the face about 25mm up from the bottom of the bat, continue working across and up the bat face. You should see slight indentations that have been made by the mallet, this is ok. Continue this process for a minimum of eight hours, until the face appears smooth again.
Don't forget to oil the bat too. Apply linseed oil to all areas that have no stickers, including the toe. A few drops of oil applied with a lint free cloth will normally be enough. Repeat this process at least two or three times.
The effort in preparing your bat prior to use will not guarantee you runs but, it will ensure your bat lasts a long time. The bats that have had more care taken in the preparations will always have a larger sweet spot, often called the middle. Imagine the joy, when the cricket ball, goes to the boundary, for the first time with your new blade, the hours of patiently tapping and oiling will be worth it.