With winter training well underway and spring right around the corner, the cricket season is nearly upon us. Depending on your fortunes last season, this may be a delight or a source of terror.
Cricketers up and down the country will be dusting off their kit bags, shadow batting in the living room and many finally washing their dirty whites after 5 months. Some may be reluctant to part ways with their old and trusted equipment, but this year may be the season for a fresh start.
If you’re still blaming your bat for any poor form in recent seasons, or you’re simply debating whether you need an upgrade – what are some key signs that you might just need a new cricket bat for 2023?
There are cracks, splits or dents
With cricket bats being made of natural wood, slight cracks and abnormalities are common and usually trivial. However, if certain cracks or splits have opened up over time and now impact the performance of the blade, then it may be time to consider buying a new one.
Serious damage can sometimes be repaired by experts, but the fundamental strength and rigidity of the bat can be undermined for good if the damage is significant enough.
You need a different size
Another sign that you need to change bats is if the sizing feels wrong for you. If you’ve grown, having a bat that’s the right size is so important for performance.
If you’re a growing junior still using a size 6 or harrow, you may want to try out some short handles to feel if you’re ready to make that jump. Some taller batsmen might benefit from a long handle, but you might want to test one out before you buy.
The pickup doesn’t feel right
Pickup is really important when it comes to cricket bats. If it doesn’t feel right or balanced in your hands then your whole game could be impacted dramatically.
Pick up your current bat and prepare your stance as if you were about to face a ball – concentrate on the feel and weight of the bat. If you don’t feel comfortable holding it, you may need a lighter or heavier alternative. This might not be something necessarily wrong with the bat, but changes in your strength could mean that you need a different pickup and weight to perform to the best of your ability.
There’s moisture damage
Excess moisture isn’t good for cricket bats because it can swell the wood and cause cracks and splintering. Whether it’s been exposed to moisture in the off-season or you didn’t let it dry properly during the season, carefully inspect any moisture damage on your bat.
Minor dampness can be dried, but this should be done naturally and slowly. If the damage is severe, then there isn’t much you can do to bring it back to life – so it’s probably time for a new stick.
It doesn’t sound good
Every cricketer can recognise the sound of leather on willow and it’s a pleasant sound when both are in proper condition. But it’s very easy to hear when things aren’t quite right and this can often be the wood of your bat.
If you’re hearing a dull sound when you strike the ball then your bat could be too dry or cracks could be impacting the performance. Test your bat against others to establish whether there is a difference and if you might need to invest in a new one. Best of luck for the season!