Oiling is very important to make your willow game ready. Before the knock-in process is started, the bat has to be oiled and then dried to remove any excess oil. Best way to oil your bat is to take 1 tablespoon of oil, dip a cloth in it and use that oil-soaked cloth to wipe the face of the bat. This will ensure that the timber is oiled, and also you don’t have to worry about excess oil. Be sure not to oil the stickers and the scruff protector; the scuff protector wears out in about a year, then you can oil that area too.
Before oiling, use very fine sandpaper to clean the surface but do not overdo it. The splice and handle of the bat are not to be oiled; it weakens the glue holding it together. After the oiling process is completed, keep the bat horizontally with the face of the bat parallel to the ceiling. The next morning, use sandpaper to clean the surface of the bat and reapply a very thin layer of oil as mentioned above. Leave the bat for another 24 hours in the same manner, horizontally with the face of the bat parallel to the ceiling. This process can be repeated a maximum of 3 times, but 2 times should be enough. Now the bat is ready for knocking, if any unabsorbed oil is there then remove it from the fine sandpaper.
It is best to use raw linseed oil on your blade. This oil is available to purchase on every major e-commerce site. As mentioned earlier, use 1 tablespoon of oil and a piece of cloth to oil your bat. Be sure not to put too much oil or too little oil on your blade, as in both cases, the life of the bat will be depreciated, willow turns darken.
Oiling a new bat is necessary to maintain the moisture level inside the willow. If the moisture level is not correct, it will result in cracking or even a clean break. It is advised to oil your bat or check whether the moisture level is right every 3-4 weeks. If knocking is done without oiling the bat, it will shorten the life of the blade. Linseed oil will provide moisture to the fibers inside the bat so, it will be easy to compress and form a barrier, as mentioned earlier when the bat is being knocked in.
It is important to knock the vertical middle of the bat or the part where the sticker goes with lesser intensity than the toe of the bat. The edges should be knocked in manually, some edges can little crack, so don't worry if you don't do it manually then the ball will do on the ground and that can be harsh. The back of the bat should not be knocked in. It is of no use to oil the splice of the bat or knock in the splice as in real match situations; this part is never used to strike the ball and hitting with a mallet will loosen the glue.
Apart from knowing how to knock a cricket bat, it is also important to know if it is well-knocked. And here are a few ways of knowing that:
- The weight of the bat feels lighter after knocking-in. It is not that the bat gets lighter, but with a change in texture of the wood, you will feel the bat a bit differently.
- If the ball does not leave any seam marks on the bat then it is ready for use.
- A well-knocked bat will produce a light sound on the impact of a leather ball.
The universally accepted time required for knocking in a bat is 6 hours, but nobody does it in one go. Also, the knocking process needs the bat to be oiled first and then dries off. So, it is a multi-day process. till you see your grains are very little opened up, the bat is not fully knocked. Even after knocking is completed, you should first take the bat to net sessions and check practically that the bat is ready to be used in matches.
Hand knocking or manual knocking should be done using a mallet. Proper techniques are to be used to knock in the bat for best results. The mallet should hit the bat in a circular motion; the power behind the hits should vary depending on the part of the bat being knocked. It is best to smart knock your bat uniformly, starting from the toe, knocking should be done in a straight horizontal line (from toe to middle or middle to toe), and the process should be carried in the same way as you move towards the sticker. Do not try to knock the back of the bat.
Long edges mean the side edges of a bat and determine the overall durability of a bat during the matches. Instead of hitting the mallet directly at 90-degree, we recommend striking the long edges at 45-degrees. It will knock and round up the edges without shrinking the hitting surface of your bat.
Knocking the cricket bat’s toe is always important even if you already used the cricket bat knocking machine earlier. In this, you should use a table cramp for a secure hold before hitting the mallet on the toe. Use the full face of the mallet and aim to flatten the toe corners and round them for further compression.
Striking area or say the main hitting area requires maximum knocks and can take up to 20000 knocks. There are several techniques to knock the striking area, including mallet hitting, practicing on soft pitches, and swing back and forth hitting.
Knock the Striking Area:
Besides these, the best practice of knocking the striking area is to place the bat on a table with a clamp. Compress the striking area using a hardwood mallet unless the striking surface becomes even. Well, it’s just the beginning!
You need to knock the striking area around 15000 to 20000 times. As it’s a lengthy process and may take around 6 hours, you must schedule a rest of 10-15 minutes after every hour. Also, keep checking the wood while knocking and knock the bat until it’s completely hardened.
As the word describes itself, knocking means hitting or tapping an object or a surface consistently. Similarly, knocking in a cricket bat reflects a consistent tapping of the bat’s hitting area from its shoulder to the toe. It’s a complete process in which we prepare English or Kashmir Willow bats to face throws and strokes of leather balls. However, your cricket bat doesn’t really require knocking if you play with plastic or tennis balls.
In most cases, traditional knocking with a Wooden cricket mallet is considered ideal. But innovative manufacturers like Big brands use high-tech cricket bat-knocking machines to get your cricket bat knocked to perfection. Don’t worry! Our cricket bat-knocking process is a blend of both machine and traditional knocking symbolizing the quality standards.
The answer is NO! Machine knocking is not enough if you’re looking to play with a leather ball on the pitch.
A cricket bat knocking machine may be convenient and perfectly knock the hitting area. But it doesn’t target other main areas such as the toe, edges, and shoulders of your bat. That’s why we consider a hybrid cricket bat knocking with both machine knocking and hand knocking ideal.
A cricket bat knocking machine adds convenience and accuracy to the knocking process. Here a step-by-step procedure of machine knocking will give you a detailed idea about how it actually works. You asked for a process so here you have it!
Oiling and rubbing:
Like traditional knocking, the process starts with applying raw linseed oil to the surface of the bat. The oil keeps the willow wood moisturized and prevents cracks during the compression. After this, we rub the oil using a soft rag to spread the oil evenly on the bat before putting it in the machine. The waxed bat is kept for around 24 hours so that the wood fibers can absorb the oil and handle precise machine knocking.
Placing the bat:
Now, the bat is ready to get knocked and it’s time to place it inside the cricket bat knocking machine. We place the cricket bat in the machine facing its hitting area upwards according to the configuration. While placing the bat, we make sure the machine holds the bat properly without over-pressing it to prevent damage.
Setting knock count:
As discussed earlier, a cricket knocking bat machine features high-tech specifications for convenient knocking. It allows you to customize the knock count including vertical and horizontal knocks according to your needs. In most cases, 2000-5000 knocks are considered ideal for professional cricket bats to face leather balls. But your bat can take up to 20000 knocks to get ready for the match.
No doubt machine knocking offers even knocks and is really convenient when compared to traditional knocking. However, the machine only knocks on the front face of the bat and skips important areas such as edges and toes. Thus, we recommend finalizing the bat with a hand knocking or traditional cricket bat knocking process for the expected results.
A pre-pressed cricket bat will have gone through a process, which compresses the surface of the blade. In the factory a bat is passed through a hydraulic roller which applies up to 2 tonnes of pressure. This compresses the face of the bat and speeds up the process of getting the bat game ready. In the factory the thickness of the bat can be reduced by up to 5mm. However, this should only be the start of the preparation. Once the bat is in your hands you should begin to manually knock in the cricket bat. This process will give you a larger sweet spot and a bigger middle, if done correctly.
To begin knocking in your cricket bat you should start by tapping the bat with the bat mallet. Alternatively use an old cricket ball in a sock. Tap along the face of the cricket bat, around 25mm up from the toe of the bat. Do not knock the toe as this can speed up cracking in the lower part of the bat. Also avoid knocking around the handle/splice as this can weaken this area too. Do focus on the edges aswell, as this is a key area and is often used during a cricket match.
Whether it’s traditional or machine knocking, every process starts with oiling the bat with linseed oil. The ideal quantity of linseed oil is one teaspoon or 4-5ml as too much oil affects the wood quality while a lesser amount may not offer the required moisture. Also, we recommend using raw linseed oil rather than cooked oil. The reason is that cooked oil can lead to adverse impacts and even soak the moisture from willow fibers.
Rubbing with Soft Rag:
Surprisingly, the second step of hand knocking is also the same as the machine cricket bat knocking process. Rubbing with a soft rag creates an even coat of oil on the bat and flattens the knocking surface. We spread the linseed oil on the surface and the toe of the bat leaving no patches or oil pools behind for an even finish.
Use Wooden Mallet to Knock Bat:
Once you have done oiling and rubbing, it’s time to conduct the most important part of hand knocking. Use a hardwood or cricket mallet to knock uncooked areas or the areas that are left behind during machine knocking. If you’re knocking the bat from scratch, you also need to focus on the primary hitting area that may take up to 20000 manual knocks. Let’s see three important knocking areas that are worth your focus while knocking!
It is considered an amateur mistake to use a ball mallet instead of a hammer mallet. Although both seem similar but knocking the bat with a ball mallet can lead to seam marks on the bat (these days good ball mallet-like from SM keep the seam away so not leaves any marks), and these are usually very light, so there is no real power behind the hits.
On the other hand, when using a hammer mallet, you don’t have to worry about the seam marks, and they come in different sizes. It is important to use a mallet that is heavy to ensure the hits are good. If a ball mallet or a real ball is being used to knock in the bat, it is important to make sure that the seam of the ball is not striking the blade and the bat is knocked in uniformly.
Let us first see the things that we will need before we tell you how to make cricket bat stronger.
Things You’ll Need for Cricket Bat Knocking...
- Linseed oil or special cricket bat oil
- A wooden cricket bat mallet
- A soft cloth
- Sand paper
When you have these things ready, you are all ready to knock your new cricket bat.
Step 1: Oiling the Cricket Bat
The first step of our process involves oiling the bat properly with either linseed oil or special cricket bat oil. This is an important step because this oil gives a good moisturizing effect to the bat. If there is a lack of moisture then the cricket bat might crack or split.
- Use the sandpaper to clean the surface of the bat. Skip this step if your bat is already clean.
- Then, take 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil and apply it evenly to the face, back, and edges of the bat evenly. It is important that you use less oil and do not overdo it as overuse of the oil will do more harm than good and ultimately affect its performance. Hence, 2 to 3 tablespoons is just the right quantity here. Also, you do not need to oil the handle, splice and label parts of the bat.
- Now, lay the bat horizontally with its face up and let it dry for about 24 hours.
Some cricket bats come with a protective cover called ‘scuff’. If your bat comes with the cover then oiling your bat once is enough. If not, you need to repeat the above-mentioned process twice more.
Step 2: First Stage of Knocking-in
- Now, before you actually begin to knock the cricket bat, it is important to wipe off any excess oil and make sure that the bat is completely dry. Use a soft cloth to wipe off excess oil, if any.
- The next step on how to make cricket bat stronger is to begin knocking-in the face of the bat.
- Take the mallet in your hands and start hitting the edges of the bat at a 45 degree angle. Make sure that you are do it slowly at forst and increase in the strength of the hits after some time.
- Once the edges of the bat seem to be ’rounded’, you can move on in the process.
- Now hit the face of the cricket bat firmly but also make sure that you don’t do it very hard as you do not want to cause any damage.
- You need to do this for a couple of hours.
- Make sure that your knocking is uniform and consistent. Note that the splice of the bat does not need to be knocked.
- The best way would be to start knocking from the edges and then slowly move up and down the central part of the bat.
- Also, you need to take utmost care when you knock the edges and toe of the bat. Don’t hit these areas directly but go slowly about it. Tap these areas very lightly and then gradually increase the force.
Step 3: Some Oiling
- The next step on how to season a cricket bat, you need to do a bit of oiling again.
- After you have spent about 3 to 4 hours knocking the bat, apply just a little bit of oil to moisturize the bat well.
- Let it dry, wipe off any excess oil, use a sandpaper to clean it, and begin knocking again.
Step 4: Final Knocking
- Continue knocking the bat for a few more hours i.e. 2 to 3 hours.
- Then, you can finally stop knocking. The total knocking should be done for about 6 hours.
- After it is done, test the bat by bouncing a ball on it. If any seam marks or indentations appear on the bat then the bat is not fully knocked and it will need about half an hour more of knocking. If no marks appear then your bat is fully knocked.
- Once your bat is fully knocked, apply fibre tape to the edges and fit an anti-scuff sheet over its top. While these two accessories are optional, we highly recommend doing it.
- Now, before you actually start using this bat to play, test it once. Use a good ball to give the bat some catching practice. Do this process well to ensure that your bat is well-knocked.
Step 5: Playing in!
- The last step answer to the question how to knock a cricket bat is to start playing with it.
- Even though you have knocked your bat well and tested it with a few catches, the bat will still need some practice.
- Ask a bowler to throw a few balls at you with a quality leather ball made for cricket. Start playing softly and hit using different parts of the bat. This is just to check every part of the bat.
- Initially use an old ball to play.
- We recommend that you have two sessions of the playing-in. Start playing softly and then eventually, you can increase the pace.
If the above goes well and you feel confident enough, you can finally start using your cricket bat for actual matches.