CRICKET BAT PROTECTION- Knocking In.
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 known as “Knocking” your cricket bat in.
All cricket bats purchased new must be knocked in.
Knocking 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 knocked in to both ensure the maximum performance of your cricket bat and to ensure its maximum life span.
Knocking in a cricket bat in is in fact a very simple process but it must be done correctly. Please ensure that you knock 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 knocked 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 knocked in correctly.
Steps and Procedure - Oiling
Oiling your cricket bat is the first step in the knocking in process. Using Raw Linseed Oil, 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 knocking your bat in. A cricket bat that is knocked 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 an old, cricket ball 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 best players 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 knocking 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 use a wooden Bat Mallet and 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.
Knocking in 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 knocking it in. Your investment of time will be well worth it as there is nothing like a well knocked 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 knocking in your bat in. Now you can go outside and begin to bounce an old 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 Knocked 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 knocked in by Holt and Haskell are knocked in properly. Any Bat you see advertised with our ready to play sign, has already been properly knocked in for you, and ready to go.
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.