It’s time for a change of pace today. Instead of attacking Maxi and me with another long-running debate about the Lord’s debacle, I decided to gently introduce a new topic – cricket bats.
When Maxie and I started TFT a few years ago we wanted the blog to also cover amateur cricket and be a forum for club and country cricketers like us. We did a little here and there, but not nearly enough. England’s shaky fortunes dominated the game as a whole.
So I want to start talking about bats. What type do you have? Do you treat your lover like a loved one, go to bed with you and burn tenderly at night, or are you just a piece of meat that you take pleasure in abusing and throw away when it breaks?
How much does a particular bat mean to you? Do you have a favorite thing you’ve had since school that’s cracked, worn out, and held together only by copious amounts of fiberglass tape?
I’m ashamed to say I knew. This is my old 25 year old Duncan Fearnley Magnum (above). It’s too worn out to be a match, but I can’t bear to throw it away. I scored my first two centuries with it as a kid. I hope to use it in the garden when my little boy is old enough.
I also want to discuss how the modern bat has influenced the game. I was wondering what you think of the new thicker, softer bat? We know they impact the professional game, but have you noticed changes at the amateur level as well?
I’ll briefly tell you why I mention this. I was a pretty good starting hitter, just realized he was getting out of style. Despite being a practical player at school, representing Worcestershire at junior level and playing for my university (hall), I currently feel completely inadequate as a cricketer. i will tell you why
I’ve played cricket only sporadically at a social and country level for the past two decades; so when it comes to the modern amateur game, I’m a bit of a different person. This year, however, I decided to give it a try on my kids’ varsity and dad teams. It’s all T20 cricket – not my style but I’ve had success in that format before. In fact, the last time I played in the T20 league at night, I was named player of the season – although that was a long time ago.
I showed up to the first game and thought it would be easy. I was wrong. Modern T20 cricket has no place for smooth, some would say dull batsmen. Now everyone just hits the first ball – which I’m not very good at. I usually need several sieves – preferably ten.
The last time I played T20 cricket, I scored 120 points (one ball run) which is not bad. My new teammate is aiming for 180 every time. This is a whole new ball game.
In my debut, I hit 17 of 17 balls and hit the ball very well – a couple of comfortable tee shots and a couple of graceful square slices going to the limit, but were overwhelmed by a player with less speed and athleticism. Fair young interception.
When the guy on the other end was hitting the ball left, right and center, I made a tactical decision to take every opportunity to turn and shoot the ball in the best interest of the team and let the Giants counter the ball as much as possible.
However, the end result is that I end up scoring in singles. When I finally decided to make my shot, I was instead caught by a deep square leg. When I walked back to the gazebo, I was everyone’s laughing stock. They have a nickname for the newcomer: “Tinder”. Apparently this is a dating site with a lot of singles. Brazen turf!
However, I’m starting to think my racket is the problem, not me. I know this sounds like a lame excuse, but hear me out.
A friend of mine came to the last race with a brand new Slazenger. He says it weighs about 2lb 10 but looks absolutely massive. The edges are huge. I can’t believe that this succulent willow weighs a few ounces more than my eight year old Newberry Uzi.
When I put mine next to his, mine looks like a toothpick. The edges and center are effectively half the width. Maybe that’s why other people can hit the ball for miles and I can’t. Do you see any merit in this theory, or is it just a matter of talent and timing?
I was wondering if any of you have experienced something similar? Has a new big piece of wood solved all your cricketing problems? Or should I accept that I’m an anachronism who has no role in modern T20 cricket?
When I decided to invest in a new wicker, I was a little unsure what to buy. Sites like Talent Cricket have a lot of blades to choose from. Old favorites like Gray Nicolls, Gunn and Moore, Newberry, and Hunts County still seem to be going strong, but there’s a ton of newer brands I’m not familiar with: Adidas, Spartan, Willostix, and Ton.
There’s even a brand called Stanford Bats. I wish I didn’t have to pay for the latter with a briefcase full of bills, or shake Giles Clark’s sweaty hand in Lord’s outfield to seal the deal.
Based on your experience, are these new brands good? Which brand is the most cost-effective? Is there a big difference between expensive and inexpensive bats? I can imagine many amateur players being unable to tell the difference.
I am asking for your help as a decent cricket bat – a 7-9 grain one with top willow – can cost over £350 these days. It costs a lot of money to spend on something that weighs lightly and can break after a few rounds. Buying a new racket is a big deal right now