Welcome to Middlepegs extensive Cricket Bat Care pages. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of the very latest in cricket bat care advice as well as information on general bat maintenance and protection.
Whilst there is no shortage of good advice on how best to care for your cricket bat there are unfortunately some bat care myths which some people still subscribe to today. As the worlds number one supplier of custom made cricket bats handcrafted by the best cricket bat makers in world cricket Middlepeg is well placed to offer the very latest and absolute facts on cricket bat care and maintenance. Needless to say all the advice below is universally supported by all of our master bat makers.
Cricket bats are made from a fairly soft and fibrous material called willow or Salix Alba Caerulea. With cricket balls being delivered like missiles at up to 90mph against your cricket bat it is obviously advisable to prepare your blade so as to achieve optimal performance, resistance and longevity. This process is refered to as Knocking or Running your cricket bat in.
All cricket bats purchased new must be run in.
Running In as outlined above is a process of ensuring that the owner of a new cricket bat prepares it for use against a new and hard cricket ball. All bats must be run in to both ensure the maximum performance of your cricket bat and to ensure its maximum life span.
There are cricket bats from some companies which are available new and 'ready to use' but we and others are not overly convinced about the merit of such an option as there is every possibility that these cricket bats may be 'over pressed'. Over pressing a cricket bat will extend a bats life span but will also and detrimentally reduce the performance and ping of your bat. A cricket bat should be crafted to provide optimal ping and performance and by knocking in such a bat properly yourself you are then able to extend the lifespan of your cricket bat.
Running a cricket bat in is in fact a very simple process but it must be done correctly. Please ensure that you run your bat in properly after purchase and before use against new cricket balls in the nets or in matches. A cricket bat which has not been run in may still perform ok but it will perform much better and last a lot longer if it has been run in properly. It is well worth investing a few hours over a few days to ensure your bat is run in correctly.
Cricket bats ordered through Middlepeg will come in a natural polished willow finish. This is universally accepted as the best finish for a cricket bat because they can be both oiled and used as is or be applied with a Cricket bat Facing material. Your Free Middlepeg Cricket Bat Package will contain among many other items both the raw linseed oil for your cricket bat plus Bat Facing sheeting.
Steps and Procedure - Oiling
On ordering your cricket bat from Middlepeg we will have liased with you with regards to your cricket bat and how you would like it to arrive. The options here are fully knocked in, as is, a 'pre app' of oil as well as the various Bat Facing options. All of these numerous options are simple and self explanatory procedures which we will outline with you prior to ordering. For the purposes of this procedural explanation let us assume your cricket bat arrives as is in a natural polish finish.
Oiling your cricket bat is the first step in the knocking in process. Using the Raw Linseed Oil found in your Bat Package lightly oil your new bat. No rocket science is involved here but it is important not to over oil your bat. Use an open weave cloth or a Chux Wipe to spread a film of oil over the main face of the bat. Ensure that the edges are also oiled and there is nothing wrong with giving the back of the cricket bat a very light coverage as well but avoid oiling the splice of the bat (the very top section of the blade).
There should be enough coverage of oil on the front face of the bat so that you can see a thin film of oil on it. You should NOT see any oil running if you stand the bat upright. If this happens there is too much oil so wipe it away to only leave a thin film. Lie the bat down horizontally after this.
After leaving it at least overnight repeat the procedure again but this time use even less oil than the first application. In other words give it only a very light rub with the same open weave cloth from before. Leave lying horizontally for at least 6 hours.
After this oiling you are then ready to begin the Knocking In procedure. Again, this is not rocket science - it is a simple procedure to follow.
By knocking your cricket bat in we are trying to harden and knit the fibrous textures of the face of your bat before we expose it to a new cricket ball being bowled at 90 mph. This is the most crucial process of running your bat in. A cricket bat that is run in correctly will provide you with more driving power and also have a much longer life span. We prefer the following technique to knocking in although our method is probably over the top. Either way its your choice.
The first step we do is to obtain the oldest, daggiest leather ball we have and then start to softly hit the front face (blade) with the ball in one hand and the bat on our laps. Have a seat in front of the TV and watch some telly because you need to do this for at least 2 hours. Warn you partner or family that this procedure could become annoying but as far as we are concerned there is nothing like sitting in front of the TV knocking in a new cricket bat.
Some people recommend doing this with a Wooden or Ball Bat Mallet straight from the start and you can do this immediately but put an old sock over the Mallet to soften the initial knocking in process.
During this process make sure that you are knocking every region of the blade. Work down the edges in a methodical fashion and then up and down through the central blade. A cricket bat is designed to hit a ball in its lower middle section, between 10 to 30 cms (4 to 12 inches) from the bottom, so even though you should eventually concentrate on this region you also need to knock the entire blade in as well. As much as we would like to play all of our shots from this hitting zone, even the Don miss hit a few shots.
Every once in a while press a finger nail lightly into the blade. At the beginning this will leave an indentation but over the entire running in procedure such marks will become harder to make.
After these first 2 hours with an old leather ball or the sock covered mallet have a break. If you are going to leave it overnight or have a few hours break then give the bat the absolute lightest of oil rubs with that same open weave cloth. There will be more than enough oil in the cloth already so no need to put any more oil onto the cloth.
The next day or after your break use a wooden Bat Mallet (provided with some cricket bats from Middlepeg) without its sock to begin gently tapping the face and edges of the blade. Again make sure that you cover every region of the blade.
Gradually begin to increase the force of your blows. It is so important to ensure that you cover every area of the blade that a ball can hit it including the edges which should show a rounded appearance after a while. We recommend you spend another 2 hours on this procedure.
Running a cricket bat in must require patience. You simply will not get the best out of any cricket bat unless you spend this time correctly running it in. Your investment of time will be well worth it as there is nothing like a well run in cricket bat. Your diligence and patience during this process will be well rewarded.
So now that should be 4 hours you have spent patiently running your bat in. Now you can go outside and begin to bounce that original daggy ball up and down on your bat and also hit some small catches in the back yard.
At this stage begin to get the feel of the cricket bat. All cricket bats have their sweet spots and you will be able to easily identify yours during this process. The sweet spot should be where you play the majority of your attacking shots from. After an hour or so of this its time to finally head off to the nets.
Get a mate to throw or bowl you some old leather balls in the nets. DO NOT use "compo" balls or balls that are not made from leather. DO NOT use new balls at this stage. Spend an hour playing mostly defensive strokes with the occasional gentle and well timed drive, cut or pull. Keep an eye on the face and edges of the blade. If you have knocked your cricket bat in properly these older leather balls should not be leaving any deep indentations on the blades face. If they are, then go back to the TV and continue with the original knocking in procedure.
That should now be 6 hours spent knocking in your cricket bat. We said it was a long process and I suppose that is why some people prefer to pay to have their new cricket bats run in. There is nothing wrong with paying to have you bat run in as long as it is done PROPERLY. Needless to say all bats run in by Middlepeg are knocked in properly.
Begin to use newer balls in the nets playing these mostly defensive and gentle attacking strokes. At this stage it is vital to keep an eye on the indentations that these newer balls make. If you have knocked it in well there should be very few signs of indentations. Spend an hour or so with these newer balls.
Following this (7 hours so far) begin to use new balls in the nets. Again keep an eye on the face after each stroke and concentrate on timed shots as opposed to big hitting.
Its not a bad idea to follow this net session with a brief session with the mallet once you get home.
Assuming you have followed these steps your cricket bat should be ready for use under match conditions.
During the season we recommend that you give the bat a very light but regular (once a week after matches) wipe down with that same open weave cloth which we suggest you keep in your kit in a plastic bag.
During "major oil services" (seasons start and seasons end) give your bat a light sanding with very fine sandpaper removing marks and dirty surfaces prior to the oiling process.
To 'face' or not to 'face' your cricket bat?
Facing your cricket bat refers to the application of a protective adhesive sheet which is applied to the hitting area and edges of your bat. Whether to face your bat or not has long been a topic of some debate. There are those that have said 'facing' your bat both reduces its performance and adds weight and there are those that say 'facing' is an excellent way to protect and prolong the life of your cricket bat.
There are actually merits to both of these views. Those against the idea cite the heavy, thick and spongy extra tech type facing materials which have traditionally been used on cricket bats in the past. These materials added weight and if they were too thick noticeably reduced the 'ping' and performance of a bat.
Fortunately facing materials have improved over the years and you are now able to face your cricket bat with materials that are much lighter, thinner and generally better all round.
It is universally agreed today that so long as the material being applied to your cricket bat is a good facing then there is no question of the benefits of applying a protective facing to your bat. This view is held by the best bat makers in the world who fully support and endorse the application of a good facing for your cricket bat.
Middlepegs Cricket Bat Facing - the best facing material around!
After 2 years of sourcing and testing all of the available cricket bat facings that are offered Middlepeg Cricket has finally found and endorsed a cricket bat facing material that offers superior performance and longevity at a fraction of the weight of current so called "bat facing materials" on the market.
Middlepegs Bat Facing is a super tough and specially hardened material that is actually used in numerous military and heavy duty industrial applications. The adhesives used are also suitable for use on willow bats and can be easily removed when servicing your cricket bat. The product comes directly from the United States and was originally made as a protective facing for the blades of helicopters so it is both super tough and very light.
Some of the other facing materials used on cricket bats these days can weigh over 1½ ounces which does not do much for the weight and balance of your bat. Middlepegs Facing weighs in at under half that weight and has a uniform thickness of only 0.35mm which is also up to half the thickness of other materials out there. It is important for a cricket bat facing material to be both thin and strong as thicker materials reduce ball velocity impact speeds both on and off your cricket bat.
As mentioned, after 2 years of testing and sourcing all the materials out there Middlepegs Bat Facing offers your cricket bat a super strong, thin and light protective face. Prior to endorsing this material and in addition to our own extensive trials we also asked a number of the best cricket bat makers in the world to thoroughly check, test and virtually thrash the Middlepeg Bat Facing material.
All results and tests on Middlepegs Facing overwhelmingly endorsed this as the best material around. Tests and trials were also carried out on the ping and performance of a range of cricket bats with the Middlepeg Facing on and there was absolutely no reduction or impact on the bats performances as this material is super thin. With the material being so thin your cricket bat retains that super sweet ping and performance.
This view is also shared by the best cricketers in the world who also prefer to use and have a Bat Facing material applied to their cricket bats. International cricketers and the best batsmen in the world today all prefer to have a Bat Facing material applied to their bats for a number of reasons but mostly and especially to protect that favourite blade of theirs.
And this is the very reason why you should also ensure your cricket bat has a protective facing applied to it. A hard new leather ball being bowled at 90mph hitting your willow bat creates a huge and sudden impact force and given the increasing number of bad quality cricket balls (some as hard as rocks!) being used today protecting that treasured cricket bat of yours should be high on your 'to do' agenda.
All cricket bats can be faced though there is little point in facing an extra cover type bat (a cricket bat with a factory applied cover or coating). Once faced and if properly oiled (see below) a cricket bat can be used for a number of years with that facing on though it is a good idea to service and oil your bat every few years.
Middlepegs Cricket Bat Facing : only $15 Aus.
Application Instructions - Middlepegs Cricket Bat Facing
If your cricket bat has been purchased from new it is imperative that it is oiled properly prior to the application of your Bat Facing. Depending on which cricket bat you have purchased from Middlepeg your bat will generally require 1 to 2 applications of oil (oil is included with your Free Cricket Bat Package). Some cricket bats like Laver & Wood already come with a pre application of oil which means they should only get 1 extra oiling.
Middlepeg may also have discussed a pre application of oil on your bat during the ordering process (ie Bradbury Cricket Bats). No matter which cricket bat you have purchased from Middlepeg we will individually advise all of our customers on the specific oiling procedure required prior to the application of the Bat Facing.
Generally when facing a cricket bat from new it is required to apply an extra half coating of oil on bats which will have the Bat Facing. The extra half coating of oil (a very small amount of oil) should take place a few days after the second coating of oil and the bat should then be left for a further 3 to 4 days to allow the oil to penetrate and soak in. Leaving it outside but undercover (in case it rains) to air helps the oil to soak into the willow.
Apply this extra half coating only to the area that the Bat Facing will cover (front edges and blade) as this is the area that will need the extra oil. Other areas such as rear edges, back and upper blade areas can be regularly oiled as per normal once the facing is on.
After leaving the bat for these 4 days get a very light sandpaper (around 150 grade sandpaper - supplied free with our Middlepeg Cricket Bat Package) and then very lightly sand your bats face and edges where the facing will be applied to.
Remove the paper backed covering, align the Bat Facing to the cricket bat and then apply the Facing. Try to get the Facing as low down on the blade as possible as the toe area is an important area to protect. Some people like to shape and cut the facing to suit the toe area of their cricket bat.
When applying ensure that the Facing does not have air pockets or bubbles in it and that you smooth and press the Facing from the centre outwards to aide in this process. It is actually very easy to properly apply the Facing but do take care when doing it. Once applied wrap the cricket bat tightly in a blanket to leave pressure on the Facing so that contact and proper curing with the bat can take place for at least 12 hours. After this you can continue with your knocking in procedure.
Cricket Bat Facing - Removal Instructions
All cricket bats should be serviced at least every two years or so. This involves giving your bat a light sanding and good oiling. To do this with your Faced bat simply remove the Bat Facing. When doing this ensure that you peel the Facing off the bat in a sideways process. In other words, do not peel the Facing off from the top or bottom. Start from one side and peel it off sideways.
Once removed give your cricket bat a light sanding so as to give your blade and edges a smooth feel and appearance. Two light coats of oil as per original instructions and a 4 day period after the last oiling and you can once again apply your new sheet of Bat Facing material.
Middlepeg offers a world class Cricket Bat Repair Service. All of our major repairs are carried out by Master Bat Makers based for your convenience in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
The following excerpts come from Master Bat Maker Mr James Laver. James is widely recognised all around the world as being one of the very best Pod Shavers and his cricket bats are accordingly used by many international cricketers. There is no one better to discuss some of the problems associated with cricket bats and their repairs.
Over the years that I have been repairing and reviving cricket bats these are the most common problems.
The cricket bat handle is susceptible to an incredible amount of strain due to the nature of the way that the ball is played. The section about an inch above the shoulders is the weakest point. This can break very easily when a ball is driven with gusto at the very base of the bat (the toe).
The bat is endeavouring to pivot around the bottom hand but is not being allowed to do so due to the top hand being in position to complete the effectiveness of the shot. Usually the front section of cane is fractured and so the handle would need to be replaced, best done by a manufacturer of bats or a bat repairer.
Sometimes the handle becomes very flexible and has the feel of a broken handle but no fracture can be seen. This is due to the rubbers within the construction of the handle coming unstuck. Removing the string and gently pulling apart the canes sufficient to apply some adhesive should repair this. The best adhesive to use here is superglue (the thin watery kind). Once a small amount of the superglue is applied the handle can be clamped back together by rolling a few strong rubber bands down the length of the bat handle.
If the bat feels as if it has lost a bit of power small splits are visible running parallel to the splice going downwards from the shoulders. These are sometimes very hard to effectively repair depending on the extent of the damage. On occasion these are caused by the manufacturer not bringing the handle binding down low enough to hold the shoulders together or the rubbers in the handle go too far down into the handle splice thus causing too much movement.
If the splits are less than one inch long then one can help to stop them going further by soaking superglue into the crack repeatedly until the crack has filled and hardened. When the splits are noticeably longer the bat is best sent to a proper bat repairer or if still under warranty returned to the manufacturer.
The splice of the cricket bat sometimes comes away to the point of observing movement when the handle is flexed. Applying superglue to the small hairline cracks visible can also repair this.
The base of the cricket bat (the toe) is very susceptible to damage. The balanced design of a cricket bat means that this is the weakest part of the willow blade and yet is subjected to the fastest ball and bat speed at point of impact. Yorkers are the worst kind of bat breaking ball to be bowled and most toe breakage is as a result of receiving one.
The Yorker can often result in a vertical crack running up the length of the blade on the front and back of the cricket bat. If the crack is only and inch or two long it can be repaired by the simple superglue method described earlier.
If the cracks are longer than two inches a good quality PVA adhesive should be used. This will require clamping. PVA is used as it is slightly elastic and absorbs the impact of a ball well. It is incorrect to use epoxies as they will crack very easily as they do not have the flexibility of PVA.
I have repaired a cricket bat that has been split right up the middle so that it had to be separated into two halves and clamped back together with PVA, the player then used the cricket bat for a whole season. This is not always the case but worth a try, especially if you have a cricket bat that is perfect for you. Doweling has sometimes been used to help with the repair of this kind of crack but from experience it does not work consistently well.
Doweling creates a weak point so that the cricket bat then breaks around the dowel. I recommend going to a professional cricket bat repairer for any major work to be done on the toe of the bat.
A thin smear of raw linseed oil a few times over the season is strongly advised to help dispel moisture that may seep into the toe when batting on a wet wicket.
The Face & Edges
The face and edges of the cricket bat receive a continuous battering and they must be looked after to ensure they last and the middle performs well. The cricket bat needs to be prepared as per the knocking in guidelines given on the L&W website. The use of raw linseed oil is crucial to ensure that the face and edges survive the impact of the ball, read more about this in our knocking in section of the website.
Once in use the face will start to crack in horizontal lines across the grain. This is quite normal together with small vertical cracks on the blade. The best way to deal with this is to use the superglue method to help reinforce the willow and then apply an adhesive facing. The best adhesive facing available on the market is a product made in Auckland and is quite often used to protect helicopter rotor blades from small stones chipping them. We actually sell this adhesive facing in our accessories section of our website. (see also Middlepegs Cricket Bat Facing above)
The face of your cricket bat will sometimes keep going for more than a season before it starts cracking if you look after it - it happens differently in every bat. As mentioned for the toe of the bat a thin smear of raw linseed oil over the face and edges helps the cricket bat to retain its own moisture and reduces the rate of cracking due to allowing the fibres to stretch rather than crack.
Middlepeg thanks James Laver for his valuable insight into this area of cricket bats. To see more on the fantastic art of Pod Shaving please visit the Laver & Wood website at: www.laverwood.co.nz www.laverwood.co.nz
DO NOT leave your cricket bat in the hot boot of a car. This is one of the worst things you can do especially in hot summer months when cricket is played.
DO NOT take your dismissal out on the cricket bat once you get in the change rooms.
DO NOT use your cricket bat against cheap cricket balls especially the old compo's!
DO NOT expose your cricket bat to excessive moisture or rain. Always dry your bat immediately if it does get wet. (To minimise absorption through the toe of the bat feel free to give this area a light coat of marine varnish. Some of the cricket bats sold by Middlepeg have had the toe region treated with DriGuard which repels moisture)
DO NOT OVER OIL your cricket bat. Less is best when it comes to oiling. It is just as dangerous to over oil a bat as it is to under oil.
DO NOT try to discover the aerodynamic capabilities of your cricket bat after a dismissal. Cricket bats were not designed to fly and throwing your bat is one of the silliest things you can do to it. We have never known a cricket bat to be responsible for a dismissal anyway!
DO take care of your cricket bat.
DO prepare and Run your cricket bat in correctly.
DO oil your cricket bat regularly (a very, very light coating once every few months).
DO store the cricket bat in a cool dry location away from excessive heat or moisture.
And ….. DO go out and make runs with it!