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Cricket bats have come a long way since the 17th Century. Although there are some historical records of people playing games very similar to cricket from as early as the 13th Century, it wasn’t until 1624 that the first surviving record of a cricket bat was put into print. The first cricket bats resembled the shape of a modern hockey stick more than that of a present-day cricket bat, with a long handle and a short, rectangular face which was used to strike the ball as it was bowled along the ground.
In this guide we cover everything you need to know before buying a modern cricket bat, ensuring you have the information you need to buy a cricket bat with confidence.
To help you determine what size cricket bat to buy we’ve created a size chart which covers recommended bat sizes by height of the batter:
To measure a cricket bat, simply place a cricket bat on the floor or get someone to hold it upright for you, and run a tape measure from the top of the handle of the bat, down to the toe/base of the bat. You can use our cricket bat size chart to find the ideal bat size for you or your child.
Generally speaking, when placed vertically, with the toe of the bat on the floor, a cricket bat should come up to, just below the waist of the cricketer.
The majority of international cricketers tend to use bats that weigh between 2lb 8oz to 2lb 11oz.
The ideal weight of a cricket bat however, will depend on your size, strength and playing style.
Most experienced batsmen and women would classify adult bat weights as follows:
Whilst heavier bats tend to produce more power and require less backswing, lightweight bats allow you to react slightly quicker, are easier to run with and are not as tiring to use over a long innings. Lighter bats make it easier to generate bat speed, and it can prove easier to adjust a shot at the last moment if a bat weighs less; especially for shots taken on your backfoot.
Choosing the weight of a cricket bat can also depend on your playing style. If you like to play off the back foot a lot, then you are likely to prefer a lighter bat, than someone who plays off the frontfoot and hits shots with a smaller swing and pick-up.
The grains are the faint, vertical lines that run down the face of a wooden cricket bat. The higher the number of grains, the older the tree that the bat is made from tends to be.
Generally speaking, a bat with a higher number of grains is higher quality. Having a higher number of grains, will give the bat a greater sweet spot and more elasticity.
The ideal range for the number of grains for a cricket bat is touted by experts as being 6 – 10. The grains should also be straight and narrow.
Grade 1 English Willow cricket bats will tend to have between 6 and 10 grains, whilst lower grades will tend to have fewer grains. For example, a grade 4 English Willow bat will normally have 3-5 grains.
When choosing a cricket bat, you will want to determine the ideal cricket bat:
First think about what size of cricket bat you require. You can use our cricket bat size guide shown above, to determine which bat size is right for you or your child. The visual chart, breaks down cricket bat sizes by height and approximate age range.
The ideal weight of a cricket bat is specific to the size, strength and playing style of the individual batter. If you are an adult and tend to play off the backfoot, you may wish to opt for a lighter bat (2lb 7oz - 2lb 8oz), whilst those playing shots mainly off the frontfoot, will often opt for a slightly heavier one (2lb 10z +).
If you are looking for the best quality bat you can buy, grade 1 English Willow is the best material for the bat itself, whilst Singapore cane is the superior material for bat handles.
English Willow is softer than other woods and therefore produces less vibration and has a relatively large sweet spot. English Willow, as well as Kashmir Willow is lightweight, yet extremely tough and durable. It's the toughness that prevents English Willow bats from breaking against the force of a leather cricket ball. English Willow cricket bats have been studied at the School of Physics at the Australian National University, with Lead Researcher Dr. Mohammad Saadatfar stating that English Willow:
“...is porous, with criss-crossing fibres that give it mechanical strength… has pockets of air trapped inside the cells, which deform elastically when the cricket ball hits, giving it unique resilient properties.”
Whilst high level players will almost exclusively opt for bats made from English Willow, Kashmir Willow is great value for money and perfect for junior & amateur players.
Cricket bats are classified by grades of wood. The majority of manufacturers grade their bats from 1 (highest quality) to 4 (lowest quality). Lower grades of wood usually have wider grains and are often slightly blemished. In contrast, the higher grades of wood will tend to have less blemishes, or no blemishes at all, and they often use lighter English Willow with tighter, and therefore a higher number of grains.
The higher grades of bat tend to perform better, in that they are slightly “springier” and will produce more force & speed.
Grade 3 cricket bats are said to be the bestselling grade of English Willow cricket bats. Whilst they are generally more blemished and inferior cosmetically to higher grade bats, they tend to perform to a similar standard to higher grade bits with a similar, distinctive “ping” and elasticity when striking a leather cricket ball.
If you haven’t previously bought a cricket bat you might wonder ‘how much does a cricket bat cost?’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this will totally depend on the type of bat you buy as prices can vary depending on the quality of bat you purchase.
For a high-quality, senior cricket bat for use in competitive games, at the time of writing, you can typically expect to pay anywhere between £150 and £500. This price range is an approximate price for a Grade 1 to 3 English Willow cricket bat, from a reputable brand such as FORTRESS.
International and professional cricket players will often use custom-made bats that are produced to meet their individual requirements and preferences. Most manufacturers do not offer custom made cricket bats to amateur players. Where available, to buy a custom made cricket bat, you can expect to pay well over £1,000.
Custom-made bats cost substantially more, because the manufacturer will have to consult with you and then design and manufacture a one-off, cricket bat, that's specific to your individual requirements.
Grade 3 cricket bats are highly popular as they deliver on performance and provide great value for money, and whilst they have more blemishes and aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as higher grades of cricket bats, the performance isn’t hugely inferior. With this in mind, grade 3 English Willow cricket bats are arguably the best grade, when looking for a combination of affordability and performance.
Professional cricketers will almost always use a Grade 1 English Willow bat. At the time of writing, you can expect to pay anywhere from £250 to £800 for a Grade 1 English Willow bat from a reputable brand.
As mentioned above, some professionals will have custom-made or player's grade English Willow bats, which generally are not available to amateur players.
Cricket bats that are designed for competitive use are made from white willow (salix alba willow tree). The highest-quality adult bats are made from English Willow, whilst junior & amateur bats are normally made from Kashmir Willow.
As the name suggests, English Willow is wood that comes from Willow trees grown in the UK, whilst Kashmir Willow bats use wood from willow trees grown in India. The UK, with its damp climate and relatively cool temperatures, provides the optimum conditions to grow Willow trees to be used in cricket bats. The English Willow is slightly less dense, lighter and more ‘elastic’, than Kashmir Willow which is grown in a substantially hotter, drier climate.
The majority of high quality and professional standard cricket bats are made using English Willow. Although a large percentage of top quality bats are made overseas, as English Willow does not suit hot climates, most manufacturers will source their wood from the United Kingdom.
The trees are felled using chainsaws and then, the trunk is sawn into blocks that are approximately the same size as a cricket bat - around 70cm (27.6 inches) long and around 11.4cm (4.5 inches) wide.
These blocks are then split in half by hand, using a wedge and an axe, before being chopped into a number of narrower pieces, called “clefts”.
The clefts are then graded according to the visible grain and the colour of the wood. It’s at this stage that the wood is usually transported to the cricket bat factory. When the clefts arrive, they are smoothed down using a specialised planing machine.
Once the bat/cleft is smooth, the cane handle is attached and then the bow shape seen on the rear of the bat is created using a number of specialised tools including a hand plane.
Next, the cricket bats need to be pressed to make the wood hard enough to hit a cricket ball. The bat is put into a pressing machine, which applies 100kg of pressure per cm².
Finally the grip needs applying to the handle. Glue is applied to the handle, then string is wrapped around it using a specialised machine, before a rubber grip is fitted on top.
According to the official regulations issues by the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) the governing body of cricket: “The overall length of the bat, when the lower portion of the handle is inserted, shall not be more than 38 in/96.52 cm”
The MCC regulations state that the maximum width of a cricket bat is 4.25in / 10.8 cm. This law was brought into effect in the 1700s, after a formal complaint was lodged against a player using a bat that was wider than the stumps!
Laminated cricket bats, refer to bats that are made from two pieces of wood glued together. The layer of glue used in laminated bats, means that they do not comply with MMC regulations and thus makes it illegal as per Law 6 “The Bat”.
At Net World Sports we sell a range of English Willow & Kashmir Willow cricket bats, in a wide range of sizes and grades. We also sell training cricket bats, double sided catching cricket bats and garden/beach cricket sets which come complete with 2 cricket bats, 2 cricket stumps, 2 cricket “incrediballs” and a carry bag. Whether you are looking for a junior cricket bat or a professional-quality senior cricket bat, we can help!