Are you struggling to play better shots? Does your shot not feel strong enough to clear boundaries?
One crucial aspect that often gets overlooked by many players is cricket bat knocking. You need to prepare your willow before starting to use it, just the way you need to sharpen a sword before taking it out for a fight. It will play an important role in improving your bat’s performance and durability. In today’s chapter of ZAP explains, let’s learn – How to Knock A Cricket Bat?
What is Cricket bat knocking?
To understand why this process is important, we first need to know about the wood that a bat is made from. Bats are made from the Willow wood, which has a fibrous structure that allows better shock absorption and resistance. Willow is lightweight and provides excellent transfer of power and pong energy to the balls. The grains of this type of wood are straight, providing a high degree of resilience and responsiveness.
Read the Kashmir Willow vs English Willow Cricket Bats guide to understand the difference between the two types of willows.
A new bat, straight out of the factory and is not prepared to face the fast paced leather balls. Knocking is the process of preparing the wooden weapon before you can take it out to play with in the nets or in matches. The process will help to compress the fibers of the willow which allows it to settle and form a solid structure. This will make it more durable and improve its ability to absorb the leather ball’s impact and enhance how it performs on the field.
Importance of Cricket Bat Knocking:
Enhances Bat performance:
Knocking helps the fibers to adjust and create a solid bond which improves power and the rebound effect. This solid bond guarantees that peak performance right away.
Doing it properly reduces the possibility of crack, dents and chipping on the face of the willow, extending the life of the willow. It fortifies the blade, enabling it to endure the force of strong strokes and the impact of balls bowled at 150 kmph.
Reduces the Risk of Breakage:
The compressed willow fibers can endure any kind of blow and your weapon on the pitch is fortified with no chance of snapping or breaking. This process is super important for English Willow Cricket Bats which have a characteristically softer wood.
How to Knock a Cricket Bat: Step-by-Step Guide
Selecting the right way to start:
There are two ways you can prepare your willow. One is by using the bat knocking hammer also called as a Mallet and second using an old leather ball. Make sure you use an old ball because a newer one can damage the face of the willow.
Preparing your bat
If there are loose or protruding fibers on the face of the wood, which is a very small probability when you buy from ZAP, just gently sand them down with a sandpaper.
Using Cricket Bat Mallet:
Hold the bat with one hand near the handle and hold the mallet or l in the other hand. Start tapping the face and apply light to medium force, gradually covering the entire blade surface. Focus on the middle section and avoid the edges initially. Do this for about an hour and then give yourself and the bat a little bit of rest. Continue this process after some time until you’ve done it for about 5-6 hours.
Using an old leather ball:
Not everyone has a proper mallet with them, so you must be wondering, how to knock a cricket bat without the mallet? Well there are many methods that you can use.
You can use the old leather ball just by itself or put it inside a sock and continue the process. With the old ball in your hand, just start tapping the face just as you would do with the knocking mallet. You can even do keep ups with the old ball to prepare your bat.
If you’re using a sock, there are two ways you can do it. One, just swing the sock at the bat with a lot of force. Though this could be a good way, it is not recommended at the intensity of the impact would be high from the very beginning.
You can tie the sock to a rope and suspend it from the ceiling and continue to play strokes against the hanging ball. Start slow, with defensive strokes first and then go ahead with punches and drive. The good thing about this technique is that you shoot down two birds with one stone. It helps improve your batting technique and prepares the bat at the same time.
Testing the Bat
Once done with the above process, take your wooden weapon into the nets for a light throwdown session and test if it feels good enough and identify the areas that need to be knocked a bit more.
After you're done knocking, taking care of your cricket bat is essential for a longer life. Read this Cricket Bat Care guide an learn the right steps to do so!
Tips for Effective Cricket Bat Knocking
Patience and Time:
This process will take time and you need to be patient with it. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on the willow from the very beginning. The process requires at least about 4-6 hours before it is completely prepared.
Gradual Increase in Force:
Don’t go berserk from the very beginning. Go slow and gradually increase the intensity of the strikes.
Pay Attention to Edges and Toe:
Ensure that you give equal attention to the edges and toe while tapping the bat. These areas are susceptible to damage and need proper compression.
Apply a Scuff Sheet:
Even before knocking your bat it is advisable to apply scuff sheet on the bat.
Use the ZAP Anti Scuff sheet as a protection cover over your ready cricket bat and there's no damage that is caused to your wooden blade.
Applying Linseed Oil to the Cricket Bat:
Oiling a bat is an important step in preparing it to face the leather cannons on the pitch. Once done knocking, apply a light and equal coat of cricket bat oil (linseed oil) to the face, edges and toes of your wooden weapon. This will help in maintaining the moisture content and improve the durability of the wood.
Remember: The process to be only followed if the wood fibre becomes dry and flaky.
Maintenance is key. Treat your bat like a king. Don’t keep it in a wet area. Keep it in a nice padded cover, like a king’s throne.
Q - How long should I knock in my bat?
A proper process to make your willow ready to play should take around 4-6 hours.
Q - Can I use my bat without knocking it?
You can still play without the knocking process, but the power and performance will be suboptimal.
Q - Are cricket bat knocking machines good?
Machines are not the best way because they put the wood surface into an unnatural state of force. Tapping gently and then going hard with a mallet or old ball manually is the best way!