|To get the best performance from your bat, there are certain procedures that manufacturers recommend and pitfalls to be avoided if possible.
Bat willow is soft and light, but hardens when subjected mechanically to pressing rollers.
Naturally, because it is a soft wood the condition of the bat will deteriorate during usage. Bats can be seriously damaged by a Yorker i.e. when the ball is trapped between the bat and the ground, causing the willow to split diagonally at the toe.
If the ball strikes the edge of the bat with sufficient force, heavy impact damage may occur.
Water penetrating the toe may cause the pressing to lift and if action is not taken immediately, the toe can be easily damaged by striking the ball or simply by heavy tapping at the crease.
Some small cracks are bound to occur on the bat, due to wear and tear, but these will not affect its performance.
Willow quickly takes up and releases moisture.
If a bat is stored in warm or hot conditions it will dry out, making the wood brittle and prone to damage.
LIGHT applications of raw linseed oil every two to three weeks help prevent this and should be carried out throughout the bat's life. Exceptions are covered bats which can be kept clean simply by wiping the blade.
They may be oiled if the covers are completely or partially removed. AVOID over-oiling, which adds to the bat's weight, spoils its driving power and may cause "wood rot."
Another major problem is the use of CHEAP BALLS, which are less resilient. This is false economy. Top quality balls are expensive for a reason.
Using cheap balls will damage your bat in a very short time, so only use balls of reputable make. Bats may also be damaged if they are not properly played in when new. It is better to use old leather balls whilst carrying out this process, if possible.
Finally, even the best player sometimes misses his shot and this can't be helped. However, continual badly missed shots will eventually cause especial damage to the edges, toe and shoulders of the bat.
So, to summarise:
LOOK AFTER YOUR BAT AND IT WILL LOOK AFTER YOU!
- Knock in your bat when new.
- Keep it oiled where necessary, but don't over-oil.
- Store it in the correct environment.
- Don't expose the base of the bat to prolonged dampness.
- Don't continue playing with a damaged bat.
- Don't use cheap balls - buy the most expensive you can afford.
- Don't mis-use your bat in the dressing room or at the nets. You probably know what I mean!