Offers a precise design and shape for the best performance. Uses top-quality materials in the construction to ensure a long lifespan and durability. Outperforms similarly priced models.
Not really made for high-level games. More for beginners.
Comfortable handle allows for longer practice sessions. Will give those just starting to play the game a good feel and performance level. Provides a surprising level of power with soft tennis balls.
Not really made for use with a leather cricket ball.
Cane handle takes the sting out of ball strikes by reducing vibrations. Delivers a good performance level for games or practices. Has a slightly below average weight to allow for longer practice sessions.
Costs a little more than some other options on market.
Made primarily for senior players and for use with tennis ball cricket balls. Works best with lighter weight tennis balls. Precise design gives you a high level of control over the ball.
Could use a better quality grip. May crack with heavy ball.
Full size cricket bat that works for the beginner looking for a game or practice bat. Best performance with a leather ball, although a heavy tennis ball will work too. Handle provides a strong grip.
More expensive than others. Bat is a bit heavier than some.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Any good sportsperson knows that the right gear is vital to both individual and team performance. Although cricket bats look like simple pieces of equipment, they can vary considerably.
A poor choice means you end up with an awkward lump of wood in your hands that distracts you from the game. The best have tremendous balance and soon become like a natural extension of your arm, so you can give all your focus to the bowler and the shot you’re going to play.
Here at BestReviews, we’ve put together an in-depth review of the vast array of modern cricket bats to help you make the right choice, whether that’s a cricket bat for a bit of fun in the park, something for the keen amateur club player, or one designed for professional matches. Our recommendations cover a variety of models for leisure and more serious play, all of them very affordable. The following cricket bat buying guide looks at the differences in detail.
Broadly speaking cricket bats can be separated into three groups: children’s, leisure and youth, and match play
Children’s cricket bats are usually made of plastic, high-density foam, or a softwood like pine. That’s okay because all they’re going to hit is a tennis ball or something similar. These cricket bats are usually sized to suit specific age ranges, such as six- to eight-year-olds, for example, and conveniently often come as a set with a ball and wickets. Spend a few bucks and you’ve got something that’s great for family fun in the backyard.
These cricket bats are designed for playing with a tennis ball or softball, but their basic construction is the same as that of a bat for match play. Though these bats are usually made to a good standard, they aren’t designed to take the pounding of a real cricket ball, which is harder and heavier than a baseball and can be traveling at up to 90 miles per hour!
A willow or cane handle (cane is light but has tremendous linear strength) is bound with twine and may have a rubber sleeve for grip. The handle is spliced into the top center of a blade made sometimes of softwood but more often of Kashmir willow. The blade’s top corners are called the shoulders and the bottom is called the toe.
Construction style for these bats is the same as for those above, but while cheaper bats are made from Kashmir willow, the best are made from English willow. The difference between the two types of willow is botanical rather than geographical.
English willow is fairly light yet dense enough to resist repeated high-speed impacts. It also has a degree of natural shock resistance that makes it better for controlling shots. The majority of the best cricket bats are made with English willow.
English willow can grow in several countries, but it doesn’t do well in the dry heat of India and Pakistan, which is where the majority of cricket bats are made (a small number of mostly high-end models are made in the UK, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand). In India and Pakistan, the local Kashmir willow doesn’t need to be imported, so it’s considerably cheaper.
Kashmir willow bats are lighter than English willow bats, though not every player wants that. They often don’t have quite the resilience. However, we wouldn’t want to give the impression there’s anything wrong with them. There are some very well made Kashmir willow cricket bats around, and they’re an excellent option for amateur players. Indeed, some pros prefer Kashmir willow bats.
Grade: A willow grading system has been used for many years, with Grade 1+ (or Grade A) the highest, down to Grade 4. It’s useful when comparing cricket bats from the same maker, but the problem is there is no agreed-upon international standard. Two individuals might put different grades on the same piece of wood. As a result, some makers don’t use the system.
Grains: Blades can also be rated for grains. The more visible grains, the denser the wood (it comes from an older tree). It certainly makes for a great-looking cricket bat, and in the past it often meant better performance. Today, advanced shaping has a greater impact on performance, as does the skill of the maker (many bats are still handmade).
Size: If you’re playing cricket for fun, you just want something that’s comfortable, but if you’re playing seriously — even at the amateur club level — there are rules governing the size of the cricket bat. Oversize bats aren’t uncommon, but they’re illegal for match play.
Length: Maximum length must not exceed 38 inches, though you’d have to be very tall to need one that long. Most cricket bats are around 35 inches long. Interestingly, there are no rules governing the proportion of handle to blade length. Most standard cricket bats are called “short handle,” but Twenty20 cricket bats (a fast and aggressive form of the sport) tend to have long handles because they can deliver more power, though at the loss of some finesse.
Width: The width can be no more than 4.25 inches
Thickness: The maximum thickness is 2.64 inches, with edges no more than 1.56 inches.
Weight: There are no limits on weight, though cricket bats usually weigh between 2.5 and 3 pounds. Although to some extent it depends on physique, the heavier the bat, the more power you can develop, but it will tire you more quickly. There’s no easy way to judge which bat will suit you best, and it’s something that might change as your game develops. That said, there isn’t any disadvantage to starting with a light bat and eventually increasing the weight if you want to.
Likewise, much is made of the profile (high, mid, or low), which affects how the weight is distributed. You can only develop a preference over time, so there’s no point starting with something radical just because a famous cricketer uses a bat like that. Start with a mid or mid/low blade, and maybe change it as your skill develops.
Some manufacturers offer preconditioned bats that are claimed to be “ready to play.” Many experts still suggest a period of knocking in before they’re right for competitive matches.
There are lots of rules in cricket, yet there was nothing about the material used for bats untiil 1979. Australian international Dennis Lillee upset traditionalists by playing with an aluminum bat, and the law was changed to say blades could only be made of wood.
Gloves: Kookaburra Batting Gloves
If you play cricket with the proper hard leather ball, batting gloves are essential. Without them you could easily break a finger. This pair comes from one of the world’s best manufacturers of cricket gear, combining great flexibility with a high level of protection and excellent comfort.
Helmet: Shrey Cricket Helmet
As the game got faster, the cricket helmet became another must-have safety product. Shrey is one of the leading makers of helmets. This model has good padding for all-day wear and an extended chin guard that shields you against balls that rise unexpectedly off an uneven pitch.
Early cricket bats looked very much like hockey sticks. The design used today was introduced in 1880 by Englishman Charles Richardson, a railway engineer.
Inexpensive: The cheapest cricket bats are children’s toys and can be found for $10 or $15. If you want a real cricket bat, those made to use with softballs and tennis balls start at around $35. These are perfectly good for younger players who are starting to learn the game and for fun games in the park.
Mid-range: Keen amateurs who want to play regular club cricket need to spend somewhere between $60 and $120 for a bat. You start to find English willow cricket bats at the upper end of this range.
Expensive: The finest-quality cricket bats cost $200 and up. Those used by professionals who play at the international level can be as much as $500.
Q. How long does a cricket bat last?
A. There are numerous factors, including the quality of the bat and how often and how hard you hit the ball. Occasional players may use the same bat for decades. Regular amateur players should expect one to last between 1,000 and 1,500 runs, which usually means several years. Professionals can go through half a dozen bats per season.
Q. Do I need to do anything to look after my cricket bat?
A. To some extent, it depends on the manufacturing process. It’s important to read the maker’s instructions if you want to get maximum use from your bat. That said, the periodic application of linseed oil helps preserve the natural suppleness of a wooden cricket bat.
Good-quality bats usually benefit from a period of “knocking in.” An old cricket ball or wooden mallet is used to strike the bat all over in order to compress the wood fibers and harden the surface, thus increasing its durability. The impacts are nowhere near as severe as when the bat is actually hit with a ball during play, so no damage is done to the bat. Tennis ball cricket bats don’t need to be prepared this way because they’re never meant to hit a hard match ball.
Q. What is an anti-scuff sheet?
A. Also called anti-scuff facing, it’s a protective polyurethane film. It can be applied to the edges or striking surface of the bat to help prevent cracking and splits. Some players use it as a substitute for going through the laborious process of knocking in a bat, though for maximum durability it should be applied after this has been done.
The anti-scuff sheet can be moderately effective when used for a repair, if a bat has been poorly looked after and has started to split, but only at the amateur level. There’s no rule preventing its use in matches, though professionals tend not to. For them, a bat needs to be in perfect condition or they’ll change it.
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