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Cricket Bats

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					Cricket Bats

   A cricket bat is used by batsmen in the sport of cricket. It is usually made of willow
   wood.


The front of a Bat, showing the names for the different parts of the bat

                 This specialised bat is shaped something like a paddle, consisting of a
                 padded handle similar to - but sturdier than - that of a tennis racquet,
                 which is usually cylindrical in shape. This widens into the blade of the
                 bat, a wider wooden block flat on one side and with a V-shaped ridge on
                 the other to provide greater air flow in the follow through and greater
                 strength to the over-all bat. The flat side (the front of the bat) is used to
                 hit the ball. The point at which the handle widens into the blade is
                 known as the shoulder of the bat, and the bottom of the blade is known
                 as the toe of the bat.

                  The bat is traditionally made from willow wood, specifically from the
                  Cricket-bat Willow (Salix alba var. caerulea), treated with linseed oil.
                  This wood is used as it is very tough and shock-resistant, not being
                  significantly dented nor splintering on the impact of a cricket ball at high
speed, while also being light in weight. It incorporates a wooden spring design where the
handle meets the blade. The rules of the game limit the allowable size for a bat as not
more than 38 in (965 mm) long and the blade may not be more than 4.25 in (108 mm)
wide. Bats typically weigh from 2 lb 8 oz to 3 lb (1.1 to 1.4 kg) though there is no
standard. The handle is usually covered with a rubber or cloth sleeve to enhance grip and
the face of the bat may have a protective film.

Modern bats are usually machine made, however a few specialists still make hand-made
bats, mostly for professional players.

History
Bats were not always this shape. Before the 18th century bats tended to be shaped
similarly to how hockey sticks are currently shaped. This may well have been a legacy of
the game's reputed origins. Although the first forms of cricket are lost in the mists of
time, it may be that the game was first played using shepherds' crooks.
The oldest Bat still in existence dates from 1729. Note its shape, which is very different
from modern-day bats.

Until the rules of cricket were formalised in the 19th century, the game usually had lower
stumps, the ball was bowled underarm (whereas now it is always bowled overarm), and
batsmen did not wear protective pads, as they do nowadays. As the game changed, so it
was found that a differently shaped bat was better. The bat which is generally recognised
as the oldest Bat still in existence is dated 1729 and is on display in the Sandham Room
at the Oval in London.

Bat types
There are lots of different types of bats, made by different companies. Such companies
include Kookaburra, Gunn and Moore, Slazenger, County, Bradbury, Newbury, Gray
Nicolls, Puma, Salix, Woodworm and Hunt's County.

Not all cricket bats have the same woodwork, and many companies have striven to out-do
each other in terms of design Whilst the need to change was once as a result of
improvements in manufacture and technology, there is now an element of variety in
batmaking that caters for specific styles and attributes of particular batsmen.

Besides the overall weight of the bat, an important attribute is the "pick-up"; the intrinsic
weighting of the bat and the reaction it provokes in the batsman. Some batsman prefer the
bat to have a lower "middle" (sweet spot) as it makes the "drive" - a type of batting stroke
- easier. This is achieved by putting the majority of weight four fifths of the way down
the bat. Others prefer the bat to have an evenly distributed weight along the back of the
bat to provide a more general power area.

Other less orthodox techniques for improving bats have also been introduced, for
example, many Indian subcontinental batmakers have long preferred the bowed style of
bat - a bat that has a concave blade which enhances its springiness - and their western
counterparts usually favour this method for at least one of their range of bats. Some bats
have "scoops" cut in parts of the blade that won't compromise on their power but will
reduce the weight and make the bat easier to wield. Others take weight from the
shoulders of the bat, making the bat taper outwards from the handle, as opposed to the
traditional style shown above. Lately, other, lighter types of wood have been incorporated
into the willow, often in the form of pegs knocked into gaps in the back and sides of the
bat.
Knocking In
Most bats, when first purchased, are not advised to be used straight away They often
include a small manual advising, for the safety of the bat, to knock in the bat by hitting
the surface with a cricket ball or a special bat mallet first. This compacts the fibres within
the bat and protects the bat from snapping which would often be the case should the bat
not be knocked in. It is advised by many cricket bat manufacturers that the time spent
knocking the bat in should be around 3 to 6 hours. However it is worth it, as the bat
becomes more controllable, manipulative of the ball and provides the user with more
power. Some bats, however can be purchased pre-knocked (in meaning that in the bat's
creation the bat has already been knocked). The price is higher but saves the owner a lot
of time.

These improvements are said by most to have a negligible improving effect upon a given
innings, but their main purpose is to increase the comfort and confidence of the batsman
and to promote the quality and range of bats from their manufacturer. The Australian
cricketer Dennis Lillee attempted to use an aluminium metal bat, but any improvement
upon the traditional willow could not compensate for the noise it made when it impacted
upon the ball. The rules of cricket now stipulate that the blade of a bat must be made
solely of wood. More recently than Dennis Lillee, Ricky Ponting used a bat (the
Kookaburra kahuna icon) with a carbon composite 'meat' (the large protruding area of
wood out the back face) but the bat was altered by Kookaburra in conjunction with the
ICC's demand.

Gray-Nicolls and Puma have created bats with lightweight carbon handles so that more
weight can be used for the blade. The bats are the Gray-Nicolls Fusion and Matrix, and
the Puma Stealth.

				
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posted:4/23/2010
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