Cricket bat selection
Choosing a bat is of great importance to any batsperson, and there are several considerations which are usually taken into account in the selection process. Cricket bats come in variable weights and sizes, and some are better quality than others - choosing the best quality you can afford is usually wise, but remember that a bat should feel right to you - its no good getting a high quality bat that doesnt work or feel how you need it to.
Although there are many varieties of willow trees, only one is ideally suited to the manufacture of cricket bat blades. This is the cricket bat willow or Salix Alba caerulea. Wood from these willows is resilient, tough and light weight. The trees themselves are grown in a very exacting manner to ensure their suitability. Firstly long cuttings called sets are grown to the height of three and a half metres, before being planted out at a depth of around 75cm. The sets should be completely straight and free from blemishes. Young trees are protected from rabbits and deer and are planted a distance apart to ensure they get plenty of light. Specimens grow best near fresh water streams and lakes. In the early summer buds and shoots are rubbed off the bottom three metres of growing trees to prevent knots in the wood. The trees are very fast growing and are ready to be felled after between twelve and fifteen years, by which time they are about twelve metres tall.
The best cricket bats have a moisture content of around 12 - 14%, this allows fibres to stretch rather than snap when exposed to the impact of the cricket ball. Willow is graded to distinguish between different qualities; the highest quality is called G1+, the lowest G4. G1+ bats are used by professional, the wood has even grains with no markings or discolorations, and it is straight and unbleached. The ideal number of grains across the face of the bat falls between six and twelve. These bats are likely to last a good while.
When choosing cricket bats, many take brand into account as this can mean a certain quality, but remember that a bat must feel right for the user. A heavy bat requires more power to use and it may prove harder to middle the ball - but if the connection made is good, a heavy bat will allow the best results from the shot. The way in which the weight is distributed in cricket bats can also play a part in how they perform and at which speed.
The length of a bat is dependent on the height of the player. It is generally said that bat size One should be used by those up to the height of 4ft 3inches, the size of bat then increases, the largest bats are called Full Sized, and these are used by players over 5ft 9inches.
If ever in doubt about selecting the best cricket bats, it is best to seek advice from other players. They should be able to help out, but remember that the right bat will feel right to the individual, and everyones needs will differ to an extent.
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