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Preparing and Caring For Your Cricket Bat
No matter what the bat manufacturer says your bat is not ready for use. There is a ritual which should not take too long that must be gone through before facing any sort of bowling.
If the bat has an anti scuff cover and a toe guard, then your bat does not need oiling. If there is no toe guard, then a reasonably generous amount of raw linseed oil can be applied to that area as capillary action will draw moisture up the grain and oil will stop this happening.
If the bat has no anti scuff cover then you will need to apply two thin coats of raw linseed oil to the blade and edges as well as to the toe as stated above. The oil can be diluted using 25% pure turpentine this will allow the oil to penetrate further before the turpentine evaporates.
A coat of oil at the end and beginning of a season is also recommended.
The best way to do this is to use a bat mallet. A ball on a stick is just OK, but a ball in a sock is a waste of time.
You will only need one hours worth of quality knocking in to prepare your bat, but you will not be able to complete the task in one hour as the arm that holds the bat can tire very quickly. Five minutes on and five minutes off is the best way. Remember, the important word is quality, don’t be afraid to hit the bat.
Start with the edges, hitting with glancing blows in the way a ball would do if you got an edge. Check what sort of dents you are making. If the dents are pronounced then the edges are soft and need a bit more care. Once you feel that you have completed this task, take the bat to the bathroom and rub the edges against the rounded side of the bath. This will smooth them out after hammering, but may be difficult to do with anti scuff fitted.
For the rest of the bat, start near the splice and work your way across the bat before moving down and doing the same again. Once you reach the bottom of the bat, repeat the operation only hitting harder this time and continuing until it becomes more difficult to make a dent in the blade.
I then suggest that you have some throw downs or hit some catches to see what the response is like. If it feels like it is beginning to “go” then start to use it in nets but stopping your shots as opposed to fully following through. Check the bat for ball marks. If the marks are not pronounced then you are good to go. If they are pronounced then go back to the mallet and repeat. Remember, the more care now, the longer your bat will last.
Be careful not to leave your bat where it can dry out quickly, eg the boot of a car. When storing over the winter, keep your bat in a plastic bag and leave in a cool dry place such as a garage so that it will not dry out
LOOK AFTER YOUR BAT, AND YOUR BAT WILL LOOK AFTER YOU!
Why not treat yourself to one of Charlie's Bat Care Kits, filled with lots of gear to help extend the life of your bat and keeping it looking and performing at it's best.