With such a wide range of cricket bats available on the market today, you may often find yourself asking – how do I choose the right bat for me?
Well, I’ve done some research on this – and I’ve also shopped for my own bat numerous times! Basically, for most players the choice comes down to a number of different factors, most notably:
- The height of the player
- The weight of the bat
- Your budget
- Regularity & type of use
In this post I’ll take you through each of these and try to provide some helpful guidelines as to what to look out for when purchasing that brand new cricket bat. I’ll also list a couple of advanced considerations that more senior/experienced players may look to take into account.
Let’s get started…
How Your Height Translates Into a Cricket Bat Size
The table below gives a rough guideline as to what size of bat you should be purchasing based on your height.
|Height (Feet & Inches)||Recommended Bat Size|
|4ft and under||0|
|4ft – 4ft 3 inches||1|
|4ft 3 – 4ft 6 inches||2|
|4ft 6 – 4ft 9 inches||3|
|4ft 9 – 4ft 11 inches||4|
|4ft 11 – 5ft 2 inches||5|
|5ft 2 – 5ft 6 inches||6|
|5ft 6 – 5ft 9 inches||Harrow|
|5ft 9 – 6ft 2 inches||Short Handle|
|6ft 2 inches and above||Long Handle|
This should be the primary consideration when buying a cricket bat. Especially for junior players who still have some growing to do! If a player is 5ft 5” tall and still growing whilst looking to buy their first bat then perhaps it would be wise to consider buying a Harrow…so you don’t end up spending money on a bat that is going to be too small in a short amount of time. The harrow bat would then be usable for longer and thus a lot better value for money.
The majority of senior players will be playing with either short or long handle bats, with short handle bats being more readily available on the market. Senior players will also have several other more complex factors to consider when choosing a bat that is appropriate for them…these will be covered later in this post.
The Weight of the Bat
The weight of the bat you are looking to buy should always be considered in parallel with the size. You could buy a bat based purely on the size guide that I included above, but it could still be too heavy for the player to use if effectively. Using a bat that is too heavy can hinder the performances of the player in quite a significant way, causing them to play their shots a lot slower and with much less power. This is not exactly desirable when facing a difficult spell of bowling!
One way to test if a bat is an appropriate weight for you is to go to a store and try holding the bat at arm’s length in front of you. If you can do this comfortably for an extended period of time then this is probably a suitable bat for you to be using. This simple test, when combined with the size guide contained in the section above, will be a pretty good indication of what bat to buy.
In my opinion as long as the size of the bat is correct, junior cricketers (16 years old and under) should err on the side of purchasing lighter bats rather than ones that challenge them in terms of the strength required to wield them. A lighter bat allows a younger player to play strokes more freely and quickly and thus will allow them to develop a better technique and play with more confidence. Playing with a bat that is too heavy at a young age is just unnecessary and is something that I think should be avoided if possible.
Senior players who have achieved their full physical development have more flexibility with the weight of bat that they choose to use. Most bats weigh in the range of 1.2-1.4kg, however there are bats that are lighter/heavier than these limits. In my opinion once you reach the senior level of cricket you will probably have picked up enough knowledge over your time in junior cricket to determine which kind of bat suits you the most. Do you prefer a lighter bat that is quick and easy to move around? Or do you prefer one with a bit more weight and a bigger middle? It really does come down to individual preference at that point.
If you have the opportunity to visit a store that sells cricket equipment, spend a bit of time holding and ‘shadow batting’ with various bats and see which one feels the most comfortable to use.
Obviously the cost of the bat will be a huge factor in your final decision, and hopefully I can help give you some guidance in this area based on the research that I’ve done.
A cricket bat is an investment, and is a piece of equipment that will hopefully last you a long time. It is for this reason that in my opinion players should consider spending that little bit extra to land themselves a quality and durable bat.
To make this post a bit more informative I conducted a decent amount of online market research prior to writing it. I consulted a few highly ranked online cricket merchandise websites (www.cricketdirect.co.uk, www.vks.com, www.barringtonsports.com, www.prodirectcricket.com, www.allroundercricket.com, www.ajsports.co.uk & www.fordhamsports.co.uk) in order to get some details about bat pricing. Here is a brief summation of my findings:
- If you are looking for a cheap option then you will see that there are many cricket bats available for under £100. But it should be noted that this level of pricing is often reserved for junior bats or very low quality senior bats. For juniors that are changing bats every year or so I would say that this is a perfectly acceptable price range to be shopping within.
- At the top end of the price range you’ll find the highest quality senior bats. These are likely to cost around the £450-£550 mark for the most popular brands, for example Gray Nicolls and GM. I also found 3 or 4 bats that fell into the £700-£800 bracket, the most expensive of which was the Gray Nichols Legend bat. The bats in this price range are usually made from the finest willow available. This means they tend to possess the biggest sweet spots whilst still managing to maintain a lightweight feel, which is what we all want in a bat!
- The majority of cricket bats I saw on the sites fell in between the £100-£450 range. This is the sort of price range I tended to shop in when I bought bats in the past, and there is plenty of choice as well as quality to suit the average players’ requirements here.
- The highest quality junior bats will usually cost you around £200-£250.
- Many of the websites that I browsed through had various deals available where you could potentially save 20-30% on the price of the bats – which is always handy!
Regularity & Type of Use
Another couple of questions to ask yourself before you make your purchase are – ‘How much will I use this bat?’ and also ‘What sort of cricket will I be using the bat for?’. The answers to these questions will give you even more information about how much money you should be willing to fork out.
For example, if you are a veteran player, or even if you’re a player that’s been part of the game for just a few years and you know you plan on continuing for many more then you may be more inclined to spend a bit more on a cricket bat. However, if you are just beginning your cricketing journey and are unsure about how long you plan to stick around…maybe don’t spend all your life savings just yet!
The type of cricket that you play is also an important factor to consider. If you play indoor cricket with a softer ball (tennis ball or wind ball), as opposed to the outdoor version of the game with a proper cricket ball, then it is probably advisable that you don’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on a top end cricket bat. The softer balls are much easier to hit and therefore a bat with a bigger sweet spot is not required. I would recommend shopping in the £100 and under range if this is the sort of cricket that you play. The higher tier bats (£450-£550) mentioned in the previous section should only really be bought if you are playing outdoor cricket.
This section features two more advanced considerations that more experienced players may wish to take into account when purchasing a cricket bat.
Some pitches are bouncier than others, and depending on what sort of pitch you play on, you may like to choose a bat that will help you to be more effective on that surface.
What do I mean by this you ask? Well, most modern cricket bats possess a ‘sweet spot’. This is an area on the bat where the willow is thicker than at any other point. When the ball connects with this section of the bat as opposed to the others it will usually travel a lot faster and a lot further! It’s possible to buy bats that have sweet spots in the middle of the blade, but you can also buy ones where the sweet spot is a lot lower. An example of different sweet spots can be seen below.
A batsman who plays on a bouncier surface regularly may prefer to select a bat where the sweet spot is a lot higher, to give the ball the extra chance to connect with that part of the bat. However, a batsman who tends to play on a slower pitch with less bounce may be inclined to choose a bat with a lower sweet spot, as the ball will tend to skid on to the bat a lot more.
This is by no means a critical issue when choosing what to purchase, but just an added element that some players may wish to keep in the back of their mind.
Custom Bat Making
If you really can’t choose from the thousands of pre-made bats available in stores and online, then you may wish to have one custom built.
There are a variety of companies available that custom make cricket bats, and you can find many of these with a simple web search. If you’re interested in this, then I’d recommend doing a bit of shopping around to see what level of service is on offer, and for what price as it seems to vary quite significantly depending on the manufacturer.
Characteristics of the bat that are usually customisable are things like: the grade of willow, the size, the grains, weight, sweet spot location, edge width, handle length, grip texture, toe profile along with many others. Setting these individual characteristics allow the buyer to create a truly unique bat for themselves.
Some of the websites that I browsed allowed you to use an online selection tool to customise the various aspects of the bat mentioned above. One site even offered a visit to their bat making facility for a day (£375 for juniors, £600 for adults) in order to ensure that the whole process was carried out to your liking.
For the truly bespoke bat designs it seems common that you will be asked to book an appointment. It is likely that personal as well as phone appointments will be available so that your exact needs can be catered for.
What To Do Next…
Ok, so let’s now assume you’ve bought your bat and you cant wait to take it in the nets…
Don’t do that just yet! There are a couple of steps/checks you should still look to carry out before you start to use it!
The first step is to oil the bat by applying two light coats of linseed oil to the surface, allowing the bat to dry in between both coats. The oiling process helps prevent the bat from cracking by introducing moisture into the blade.
Once the oiling process is complete the bat will be ready to be ‘knocked in’. Some bats can be bought pre-knocked in, and therefore these bats will require less work. For bats that aren’t pre-knocked in, a hardwood mallet should be used to strike its face and edges. This helps to make the willow grains more compact and makes sure that the material is fully prepared to withstand the impact caused by a real cricket ball!