Cricket bats are made of willow. It is to be expected that the condition of the bat will deteriorate during its usage.
Irrespective of make or finish of a bat, superficial face and edge marks will almost certainly appear, together with indentations or bruising of the willow. This happens especially when 'poly type' coverings have been used, when the covering (a man-made fibre) does not react in exactly the same manner as willow (a natural fibre). In these circumstances there is no need to worry or concern as the durability and performance of the bat will be unaffected.
PREPARATION FOR PLAY We recommend the following principles for the preparation and maintenance of cricket bats. Following these procedures will significantly reduce the possibility of damage occurring.
OILING All natural faced bats MUST be treated using raw linseed or a specialist cricket bat oil. The main purpose of oiling is to maintain moisture levels within the blade, and hence reduce the chances of cracking and splitting. Light coats should be applied to the face, edge, toe and back of the blade - taking care to avoid the logos and the splice area. Generally two or three coats should be sufficient. Each coat should be allowed to dry into the blade in a horizontal position before the next is applied.
ALTERNATIVELY It is possible to fit a clear Anti-scuff or similar cover. This does not negate the requirement to 'knock in' the bat. The cover may assist the durability of the bat, but under no circumstances will it totally prevent surface damage.
KNOCKING IN All bats are pressed, however 'knocking in' is VITAL. This is the process by which the fibres of the willow in the face and edges are compressed together to form a barrier, which protects the bat against the impact of the ball. Effective 'knocking in' will significantly improve the performance and increase the lifespan of the bat.
Stage one The 'knocking in' process should be undertaken carefully, using a special bat mallet or an old, quality cricket ball. The bat should be repeatedly struck (with gradually increasing force) in all areas where one would normally expect to hit the ball, this conditioning must be performed with patience. Particular attention should be given to the edges, although the edges or toe should not be struck directly at right angles to the blade. This would be likely to cause damage. This stage should take in the region of six hours, although it may vary as every bat is different.
Stage two The next step is to graduate to the use of the bat to hit short catches with an old, quality cricket ball. However, if the seam marks the blade, it is necessary to return to 'Stage one' for a further conditioning. This stage should be performed for at least another hour. Many bats come ‘PKI’ or pre-knocked in. This is where the manufacturer has oiled and knocked in the bat in the factory. Although this means that the extensive six hours of knocking in isn’t required, we still recommend that you still take care and knock your bat in for between 2-3 hours. Followed by Stage 2 above, either catches or someone throwing gentle underarm ‘bowls’ which are hit gently back to the bowler, this will ensure the bat is well prepared and ready for you to score tons of runs!!!