Cricket has changed over the years. Oh yes, it has definitely changed since the time we played the game. With the advent of T20 cricket, fans can experience the fun and entertainment part of the sport. The pomp and grandeur, money and entertainment, color and lights have all come to the forefront leaving behind the traditional values of the game. T20 has also forced bat makers to adapt their bat making policy to suit the high flying entertainment part of the game, i.e., powerful batting. Fans want to see every delivery land in the stands. Regardless of what the game demands, you still need to make proper contact with the ball. To ensure this is done more often, your selection of the willow is vital.
What is a good bat for you? It all depends on your style of play, how big you are and what you want your bat to deliver. The three most important aspects of a good cricket bat are balance and pick up, handle and grip and a nice feel to it. Of course, I am stating this with the thought that we are dealing with a Grade 1 English willow bat. The “brand” is a myth. It is the blade that matters the most. So it does not matter whether you have a Gray Nicolls, Kookaburra, G&M or Puma in your hand. If you don’t have the right blade, the only satisfaction may be the name in your hand and this too will not matter if you are unable to punch the ball around the park as often as you would like to.
Needless to mention, a handcrafted English Willow Grade 1 bat is the grade to go for. There are sellers who tout offering the best of the best among Grade 1 willow. Well the fact is that from a willow tree, only about 5% qualifies to make a Grade 1 Five Star bat. All manufacturers or Brands keep the top grade willow for their sponsored Test Players and if one wants to own a piece from this top grade; one has to pay big bucks for them. Yes! I mean really big bucks.
The bats that we offer are mostly Grade 1 willow, a few of which are of the top Five Star quality. The Maximus LE and the Excalibur LE are of such high quality. The Blitz, Zill-68 are made from Grade 1 willow but is of a slightly lower quality than the Maximum LE or Excalibur LE; however, it is still a very high quality match bat for the first class cricketer. There are several Test Players that are using bats of a similar quality under different brands.
Choosing the right weight:
When I was playing for Bangladesh, I was taught by the late Jock Livingston, former Australian cricketer of the Bradman era and Director of Gray Nicolls, who I met for the first time in 1978 in Robertsbridge, Sussex. While he had a top bat makers make a custom GN500 (double scoop) for me during my visit, he gave me some tips on picking the bat weight. He told me to pick up a blade and hold in the top hand only and standing with my feet apart lift the bat to my eye level that would have the bat toe facing the bowler and hold it still in that position. If I felt the bat weight hurting my arm, the bat was too heavy for me. Upon following the exercise with a few bats, the perfect weight for me at that time was 2lb. 7 oz. The GN 500 that was custom made for me was 2 lb.7 oz. What a glorious piece of willow it was. Later on I moved up to a 2lb. 8 oz. GN Powerspot, a weight that I comfortably settled into for the rest of my cricketing days both in Bangladesh and in the USA.
The bat weight is critical for two reasons.
a) If the bat is too heavy for you, you will mistime your strokes square of the wicket. These days all fast bowlers bowl short of a length or just plain short that forces the batsman to play off the back foot. The square cut, the hook or pull are all run scoring strokes that are played mostly on the back foot. The bat needs to be light and ready to meet the ball on time. It needs to act like a whip in your hands.
b) While you will be mistiming your strokes, a heavy bat will also tire your arms faster than you think. Yes the heavier the bat the more the power but, what good is power when you cannot strike the ball on time!
Just to give you some facts – David Gower, one of the most graceful and attacking left handed batsmen was more than 6ft tall, yet the GN 500 that I saw being made in 1978 belonged to him and that bat weighed 2 lb.7 oz. he used it like a whip when he flayed the Australians and the Indians in 1979. The Powerspot that I picked in 1982 weighed 2 lb.8 oz and it was picked from a pack of five bats that were going to Gordon Greenidge. He was one of the fiercest hitters of the cricket ball during his days and T20 was not even conceived. The bat needs to have a face that is smooth, with at 7 or more grains, knotless, decent thickness of the edge and most importantly, a light pick up. If the bat is not pre-knocked, make sure that it is knocked in and made ready for play. For knocking a brand new bat, look at our guideline for the same under the heading “Is your bat match ready?”
So select your cricket bat with care and practicality in your thoughts and you will be happy with your willow.
We are always here to help you make up your mind. Enjoy your batting with a blade which Waibee 115 is making available to you.