Where did my Cricket Bat come from?
Lets not just say from a willow tree well to be exact “Salix Alba Caerulea”. I meant the shape of the cricket bat. But whilst here on the ‘willow’ subject the first bats or ‘dog**’ or ‘cricked club’ would have been a solid piece of wood, made from what wood you could get your hands on. It would of reached your elbow and there was no restrictions on height, width, weight or shape.
It was a guy called John Small around 1790 that made something resembling what we use now, that is, a blade with square shoulders and after a few experiments it became the norm. So come 1830 the MCC is established now and some cricket bat laws:
“The bat – most not be more then four inches and a quarter in width at the broadest part. There are no restrctions as to the height of bat, it may be as tall, short or narrow as the player chooses;”
In 1835 the MCC restricted the length of a cicket bat to thrity-eight inches. Those width and height restrictions still stand today as part of Law 6!!!!!
Ok back to cricket bats…. Around 1830 they started to change from one piece cricket bat to splicing in the handle. How did these two-part bat come about? Well no one is really sure, “James Cobbett” you could say invented it, he incidentally had a 3 spliced cricket bat but it probably came about as part of cricket bat repairs. That is a they probably noticed a two-part bat came back less often for repairs as it had more give to it. Well by the the 1860s’ the “new form” cricket bat was here to stay.
What about Willow?
Again it is difficult say when willow was selected as the wood of choice for cricket bats. Alder and ash have been used for cricket bats particulary Stonyhurst bats. Willow was probably used by the Professionals and county players and the more amateurs types probably used a hard wood of some type. Willow became favoured because it was not only resilient and tough but it was also light and naturally soft. Close grained red willow was favoured by W. G. Grace and others for its superior driving powers and mammoth hits. By the end of of the 1800s the fashion had shifted to almost all white wood cricket bats this had no real foundation other then from the sales man point of view a white bat probably ‘looked’ better in a sports shop window. This in turn lead to willow hybrids and “Salix Alba Caerulea”.
To bow or not to bow
Ok so I’m looking for a Cricket bat and it says it is bowed? I’m not going to shoot arrows with it, I’m going to hit cricket balls. So what does a bow give you well a couple of things really, it helps with lofted shots like a scoop so expect some higher shots. It also acts as a counter balance and helps to a certain extent with the pickup of the bat.
Cricket Bat Pickup
That last line leads me very neatly onto this bit. I going to leave this bit fairly simple as the bits and pieces that are related to the “pickup” effects the performance of the bat in so many ways it would make the mind boggle…. Basically pickup is how the bat feels relative to its actual weight on the back lift of the cricket bat swing. Think of a lump hammer with its head flat on the ground and the handle sticking up in the air. Now imagine yourself wielding it like a cricket bat it would feel heavy right? Now the same hammer same length etc but raise the hammer head up the handle towards where you’re griping it…. same hammer same weight but the back lift is lighter? That in a nutshell is pickup, it’s relative to the position of the middle [most wood] on cricket will determine how the bat feels.
A Low Rider Toe
I thought I’d write a bit about my Twenty 20 bat the SAF Fatboy and the theory behind it…. Take a deep breath I’m starting straight into the Techie stuff…
A Shorter Cricket Bat Blade
By extending the handle and shortening the blade you are lowering the placement of the pivot point [centre of mass]. This in turn will result in a higher mass moment of inertia of the bat.
You’re thinking “That was quick thanks see you next time you write something”…. Hold on there is more!
Cricket bats and Moisture
There are a couple of schools of thought with regards to what level of moisture content should be left in the willow cleft when it is ready for the market! The variation is around 2% and that is either 14% or 12%, I won’t go into who is right and whose wrong in my opinion as I don’t really have an opinion on it. Yeah right I hear you say! Well maybe you right but as I’m going to explain a bit about you can form your own views on it!
Here we go!
Having the willow at a certain moisture means the willow cleft has certain characteristics. Oh please I hear you say this was going to simple…. Ok let me get this done quickly then! Young Modulus there you go done, well almost! Elasticity is what I’m talking about, within the moisture range specified above the elasticity of the willow will be in a range that is as good as known [normal caveats apply for an organic bit of wood] This means you’ll get a cricket bat that should have the bending properties that have been around for years.
Excellent that brings me onto bending strength, oh I see it is related to elasticity. Yep it is as you’ve probably worked out the less elastic the willow is the less bendable the willow is!
Ok so what does that all mean for my cricket bat?
It means that the less moisture content a cricket bat has the stiffer it will be, great I’ve read some your other articles and stiffness is good. Yep it is but it is at a cost!!!!! Why, because the life of the bat is reduced because you have what in effect is a brittle bat. Yep you have a bigger bat as less moisture means a lighter cleft and yep you have a bat that better goes from the outset but it will die alot quicker possibly only giving you only a few hundred runs! It is better to get that stiffness through the bat makers ability in making and pressing a cleft then artificially from over dried willow
Well there you go, I hope you found that one useful