Apparently, researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered that cricket bats made from bamboo are the future of the game – they’re 22 per cent stiffer, more sustainable, provide a larger sweet spot and are cheaper to produce.
It all sounds very promising for the spread of cricket, but in the meantime, there’s no better sound to many across the country than that of leather on willow, as the ball rips away from bat to boundary. At least, that’s the theory: more often than not, the sound is leather on wicket and a long walk back to the clubhouse. That shouldn’t, however, dissuade us from investing in a good bat for those rare good shots.
There are a few elements to look out for when choosing the best though. Handle and blade size (the body of the bat) can be important – longer handles and body’s produce more momentum for big hitters, while shorter ones help batters with their reactive handling.
Position and size of the bat’s sweet spot – where the connection will be the purest – is also something to consider, as this can affect the overall balance of a bat. A sweet spot in the middle of the blade will, on the whole, lead to a more balanced piece of equipment, while a sweet spot lower down can benefit an offensive game on the front foot.
Balance is key, as anything slightly out of balance can affect the bat’s pick-up: that is, how the weight is distributed as you lift it. Thats means a heavier, well-balanced bat can actually feel much lighter than one with less overall weight but poor weight distribution.
Choosing the right bat also depends on the conditions you’ll be playing in. A bouncier pitch more likely demands a bat with a lighter pick-up and higher sweet spot, for all the bouncers that might come your way. Traditional British wickets tend to be on the slower side, resulting in a lower bounce of the ball: in this case, you might be able to invest in one with a lower sweet spot, to connect nicely with a flatter delivery. A good rule of thumb is that a lighter pick-up offers more control for a batter, while a heavier pick-up focuses on generating power through the bat.
Bat prices vary depending on size, design, handle and grade of wood used: when it comes to willow, Grade 1+ is the very best available, but Grade 4 is still more than acceptable for most players. It’s also not an exact science, as the wood isn’t made in a lab: this is real English willow, a beautiful tree that provides the best cricket bats around, but will never produce two exact replicas. Luckily, there are plenty of expert craftspeople around to provide the very best bat for you to swing wildly with at a wide ball.
You can get a great bat for £100-200, one that will last you years if you give it the proper care and attention it deserves. However, there are options above that price range that can really set your game apart from the rest. Now it’s just a matter of being able to actually hit the ball, and you’re away…
Thee best cricket bats for 2022 are: