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As a professional cricket coach I am often asked: “What is the best bat to buy? “

It is a near impossible question to answer. In the reviews I try to point out the advantages of every bat and every manufacturer.

Feel free to contact me for a free consultation in order to help you find the bat among the many trees.

The wonderful game of Cricket

If you have never heard of Cricket I would like to know where you were in the last decade! We know of cricket but do we know cricket? Do we understand cricket?

The basics:  a ball, a stick and a target. The object of the game from the pitcher’s perspective is to hit the wickets (a target that could be a box, a waste basket, or 3 sticks planted in the ground). In baseball, the ball never hit the ground on a throw.  In Cricket, the ball is seldom delivered without first hitting the ground. The batter will try to defend the target and hit the ball as far as possible.

I think we can assume it was a group of men entertaining themselves.  A ball and a stick and hitting it as far as possible. The true origin is lost to history, but the point is, the game lives on.

It is assumed and suggested that it was an adaptation from another game.  It could be that in a game off bawls, a player took a stick to knock the oncoming ball away.  Like the soccer ball was picked up and ran within the reported origins of rugby. Who really knows?  (Do we really care?)

What we do know is that the first recorded cricket game was recorded in southeast England in 1611.   The first reference was cricket being played as an adult sport and in the same year, a dictionary defined cricket as a boys’ game.

What happened in the world around that time?

It was the reign of James I, son of Mary, Queen of Scots (1603-1625), and Shakespeare was writing poetry and plays. Australia was discovered in 1606, New Zeeland was discovered in 1642 and in 1652 Jan van Riebeeck set foot in the Cape of Good Hope. 

The point I’m trying to make is:  that the noble sport of cricket has been around for a very long time.

International matches have been played since the 19th century and formal Test cricket matches are considered to date from 1877.

 Cricket is the world’s second most popular spectator sport after soccer.

Internationally, cricket is governed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has over one hundred countries and territories in membership although only twelve currently play Test cricket.

As the world changed so did the game.

Here follows the breakdown of the game as it is played today.  A different article will cover the full history as the rules changed, the equipment changed and the bats changed. 

1. Test Cricket – Seen as the purest form of the game.

The first clear indicator of test cricket is the all-white dress code. Hat, shirts, trousers and even shoes. Lilly –white.

A game that spans two innings. This means that one team needs to bowl the other team out twice and score more runs than them to win the match.

Another key difference between test cricket and other forms of cricket is the length of the innings. In test cricket, there is no limit to the innings length. The only limit in test cricket is – the game has to conclude in less than 5 days!

There was this period in cricket when the time limit was removed.  99 test matches were played under this rule. The most famous one was the one in South Africa in 1939.

It was the Fifth Test between England and South Africa at Durban in 1939.

After 12 days the game was abandoned in order for the England team to catch the boat back to England.

Test cricket is the oldest format of Cricket

2. One-Day Cricket

A new faster format of the game was introduced.  The first ODI was played on 5 January 1971 between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Every team bats 50 overs and bowls 50 overs. 300 balls to be bowled by each team.

The team that scores the most runs wins.  It was exciting and brought color to the game.  Each team wears outfits that represent their countries, counties, or clubs.  Some of the games are day and night.  It is an exciting new version of the game with an almost guaranteed to have a result.

3. Twenty20 cricket

Both teams are restricted to only 20 overs. This is the fastest version of the game.

Cricket is played on a cricket pitch.

Cricket pitch dimensions

You get three different creases on a Cricket pitch (Illustrated on picture below)

  • Popping crease
  • Bowling crease
  • Return crease

Then you have 3 Cricket stumps on either side of the Cricket pitch.

Then there is The Cricket field

Before any game begins an official (Umpire) will toss a coin.

 The captain who guesses the correct side of the coin will then choose if they want to bat or field first.

One team will then bat while the other team will bowl & field. The aim of the batting team is to score the highest number of runs while the aim of the fielding team is to get the batting team out (10 wickets) for the lowest amount of runs.

Although there are 11 players (cricketers) in each team, only ten people need to be given “out” as you cannot have one person batting alone. Batting is always done in ‘pairs’.

Ways to score runs.

The aim of the batsmen is to score the highest number of runs. One of the main cricket rules is that for batsmen to score runs they must run to each other’s end of the pitch (from one end to the other). In doing this, one run is scored. Cricket rules state they may run multiple runs per shot.

 

As well as running they can also score runs by hitting boundaries. A boundary scores the batsmen either 4 or 6 runs.

A four is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary while travelling over the grass (on the ground), while a six is scored by hitting the ball past the boundary on the full (before it hits the ground).

There is no double dipping in Cricket.  If you hit the ball over the boundary rope it is futile to run.  You will not be credited with the physical runs you ran. 

 

If you are a big hitter – stand back and enjoy the sight of seeing the ball disappear into the crowd.  Job done.

Other ways that runs can be scored according to the cricket rules include no balls, wide balls, byes & leg byes. Cricket rules state that all runs scored by these methods are awarded to the batting team, but not the individual batsmen.

Umpire signals- Explanation discussed below

  • A “No Ball” can be declared for many reasons: If the bowler bowls the ball from the wrong place, over steps the crease, the ball is declared dangerous (often happens when bowled at the batsmen’s body on the full), bounces more than twice or rolls before reaching the batsman or if fielders are standing in illegal positions.
  • As a bonus the batsman can hit a no ball and score runs off it but cannot be out from a ‘no ball’ except if they are run out, hit the ball twice, handle the ball or obstruct the field. The batsman gains any runs scored off the ‘no ball’ for his shot, while the team also gains one extra run for the ‘no ball’ itself.

Bert Vance – 22 balls in one over. 77 runs to the score board.  It was painful to watch.  It must have been painful to complete! 21 Jul 2019 officially recorded as the worst over to be ever bowled in the history of the game.

If there was a No-ball to be bowled.  Bret bowled it!

  • A “Wide Ball” will be declared if the umpire thinks the batsman did not have a reasonable opportunity to score off the delivery. However, If the delivery is bowled over the batsman’s head it will not be declared a wide, but a ‘no ball’. Umpires are much stricter on wide deliveries in the shorter format of the game (T-20; Limited Overs Cricket) while being much more relaxed in test 5 cricket. A wide delivery will add one run to the batting team and any runs scored by the batsman. The batsman is not able to get out of a wide delivery except if they are stumped, run out, handle the ball, hit their wicket, or obstruct the field.
  • A “Bye” is where a ball that isn’t a ‘No ball’ or wide passes the striking batsman and runs are scored without the batsman hitting the ball.
  • A “Leg Bye” is where runs are scored by hitting the batsman, but not the bat and the ball is a no-ball or wide. However, no runs can be scored if the striking batsman didn’t attempt to play a shot or if he was avoiding the ball.

Ways Batsmen can be given out according to cricket rules.

There are a number of different ways a batsman can be given out in the game of cricket. When a bowler gets a batsman out, it is said that the bowler gets a “wicket”.

  • Bowled – Cricket rules state that if the ball is bowled and hits the striking batsman’s wickets, the batsman is given out (as long as at least one bail is removed by the ball). 6 Stumped – The wicketkeeper will stump the batsmen’s wicket, while he is out of his crease and not attempting a run (if he is attempting a run it would be a run out).
  • Run Out – A batsman is out if no part of his bat or body is grounded behind the crease while the ball is in play and the wicket(s) are knocked over by the fielding side.
  • Caught – This is done by the fielders, wicket keeper or bowler catching the ball on the full (before it bounces). If this is done then cricket rules state the batsman is out.
  • Leg Before Wicket (LBW) – If the ball is bowled and it hits the batsman leg first without the bat hitting it, then an LBW decision is possible. However for the umpire to give this out he must first look at some of the factors stated in the cricket rules.
  • Hit Wicket – If a batsman hits his own wicket down with his bat or body after the bowler has entered his delivery stride and the ball is in play, then he is out. The striking batsman is also out if he hits his wicket down, while setting off for his first run.
  • Handled The Ball – Cricket rules allow the batsman to be given out if he willingly handles the ball with the hand that is not touching the bat, without the consent of the opposition.
  • Timed Out – An incoming batsman must be ready to face a ball or be at the no striker’s end with his partner within three minutes of the outgoing batsman being dismissed. If this is not done the incoming batsman can be given out.
  • Hit The Ball Twice – Cricket rules state that if a batsman hits a ball twice other than for the purpose of protecting his wicket or with consent from the opposition he is out.
  • Obstructing The Field – A batsman is out if he willingly obstructs the opposition by word or action.

Balls

 A leather ball is used, which differs in size according to the different age groups.

The white stitching on the cricket ball is called the seam

  • U9’s – 113 grams in size Cricket ball
  • U11’s -135 grams in size Cricket ball
  • U13’s- 135 grams in size Cricket ball
  • Women- 142 grams in size Cricket Ball
  • U14 upwards 156 Gram Cricket Ball

 

There are many other balls available for young cricket players where leather balls are considered unsuitable. For instance, plastic balls can be used to help players develop skills when they are afraid to catch or bat with a hard cricket ball. Slazenger balls may also be used for this purpose.

None of the fielders except the wicket-keeper are allowed to wear any form of protective gear on their hands.

He is required to wear special protective gloves and may even wear inners underneath the gloves for added protection. The inners also assist with the retention of sweat. The wicketkeeper is also required to wear pads while fielding. These are generally smaller than the usual batting pads as the keeper needs to be able to move relatively quickly across the field. Another important piece of equipment for the keeper is an abdominal protector and lastly a helmet if the keeper is standing up to the wickets.

Cricket Bats (You need to buy the correct bat for you)

In street Cricket any plank will do.  But as you progress so will your need for a better piece of wood.  No one knows how many types of wood have been used but after 400 years of experimentation English and Kashmir willow came up on top.

 

Kashmir willow is more for softer balls and indoor Cricket.  It is cheaper than the English willow.

 

English willow is the ultimate wood for the best bats. 

 

Not all English willow is the same.  Each piece of wood – cleft – is graded according to grains, colour, knots and blemishes.  The whiter, most grains and flawless is by far the most exclusive.

 

Are made from wood (mostly English willow or Kashmir willow). For senior players, bats may vary in length, shape and thickness to suit individual differences.

When selecting bats for juniors there are a few important factors to consider:

  • Length: The ideal length for a bat is the inside measurement of the batsman’s trousers. Bats that come up to the batsman’s hip will disrupt his technique.
  • Weight: It is very important that young players choose bats that are light-weight.

 

 A way to gauge if the bat is the correct weight is to ask the child to lift the bat with his non-dominant hand and to hold it out horizontally for one minute. If this can be done without effort or difficulty, the bat is the correct weight.

 

When you buy a cricket bat, you also need the below cricket equipment.

 

Batting gloves

Batting gloves help batsmen grip their bats and also serve to protect their hands. Players should choose comfortable, well-fitting gloves.

 Pads (leg protectors)

Pads are worn by both batsmen and the wicketkeeper. Batting pads are generally made from lightweight materials that it is easier for the batsman to run. Pads should be selected according to the type of ball used. Pads need to be the right size: if they are too small they won’t provide adequate protection for the batsman or keeper. If they are too big they may hinder the player’s ability to run between the wickets.

Helmet

The helmet provides protection for the skull and face. Helmets are made from light-weight fi fiberglass and the grill is made from metal. The grill of the helmet should be adjusted so that the space between the top of the grill and the peak of the helmet should be smaller than the ball.

 

Abdominal guard

These are made from durable plastic and come in a large range of sizes. This piece of equipment should be obtained by every team member, and players should be encouraged to wear them when batting. Wicket-keepers are also required to use this piece of equipment. The protector is worn underneath a snug undergarment to keep it in position.

All-rounder: A player that are excellent at both batting and bowling. In the modern era, this term can also refer to a wicket-keeper who is good at batting.

Appeal: A loud call to the umpire with arms spread out for dramatic effect to ask the umpire give the batsman out.

The call is usually “Howzat!” Around the wicket or round the wicket: A right-handed bowler passing to the right of the stumps during his bowling.

Bouncer: A fast, short-pitched delivery that rises up near the batsman’s head.

Boundary:

  1. The rope that demarcates the perimeter of the grounds.
  2. Where there is no rope, the perimeter of the grounds can be used to indicate the boundary.
  3. Sign boards, marked tyres, cones or even bricks can also be used to demarcate the boundary.
  4. The boundary is used to determine four runs and six runs collectively.

Bye: A run that is made without the ball touching the bat or the body of the batsman

Century: An individual score of at least 100 runs, is a significant landmark for a batsman.

Crease: One of several lines on the pitch near the stumps. It usually refers to the popping crease.

 Dead ball:

  1. The state of play in between deliveries in which batsmen may not score runs or be given out.
  2. Called when the ball becomes lodged in the batsman’s clothing or equipment.
  3. Called when the ball is (or is about to be) bowled when the batsman is not yet ready.
  4. Called when a bowler aborts his run-up without making a delivery.
  5. Called when the batsmen attempt to run leg byes after the ball has struck the batsman’s body, but it is deemed that a shot has not been offered.

Dot ball: A delivery bowled without any runs scored off it, so called because it is recorded in the scorebook with a single dot. Duck: A score of zero. The batsman goes out without having scored a run.

Extras: The batsman scores runs without having hit the ball.

Four: A shot that reaches the boundary through bouncing or rolling on the ground. Four runs will be added to the scoreboard

Six:  When the ball is hit directly over the boundary rope or boards, six runs will be added to the batsman and the team’s total.

 Guard: This is the first thing the batsman will ask for when he arrives at the wicket. He will ask the umpire for the position of the stumps and mark this with his bat or foot. Batsman normally ask for middle stump.

Half-century: An individual score of over 50 runs.

Handled the ball: A batsman can be given out if he wilfully handles the ball while in play.

Hat-trick: A bowler taking a wicket off each of three consecutive deliveries he bowls in a single match (whether in the same over or split up into two consecutive overs, or two overs in two different spells, or even spread across two innings of a test match or fi first-class cricket game).

 Hit the ball twice: While the ball is in play, it strikes any part of his/her person or is struck by his/her bat and, before the ball has been touched by a fielder, the striker wilfully strikes it again with his/her bat, other than a hand not holding the bat.

Innings: The team that is batting has a set number of overs in which to bat. The end of the innings is reached either when the allowed overs are finished or when all the batsmen are out. When this happens, the side that was bowling comes in to bat and the side that was batting will take the field.

Keep the strike: On the last ball of the over, the batsmen arrange runs so that one of them will face the first ball of the next over. It is referred to as ‘shepherd the strike’ when they continue to do this to protect a less skillful batsman.

Leg before wicket (LBW): A way of dismissing a batsman. In brief, the batsman is out if, in the opinion of the umpire, the ball hits any part of the batsman’s body (usually the leg) before hitting the bat or the hand holding the bat and the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps.

 Leg break: A leg spin delivery which, for a right-handed bowler and a right-handed batsman, will turn from the leg side to the off side (it usually spins away from the batsman).

Leg bye: Extras taken after a delivery has hit any part of the body of the batsman other than the bat or the gloved hand that holds the bat. If the batsman makes no attempt to play the ball with the bat, leg byes may not be scored.

 Leg side: The side of the field behind the batsman’s feet as he takes his stance at the wicket (the left side for a right-handed batsman and the right side for a left-hand batsman)

Maiden over: An over in which no runs are scored off the bat, and no ‘wides’ or ‘no balls’ are bowled. It is considered a good performance for a bowler and maiden overs are tracked as part of a bowling analysis.

Not out: If the team’s innings is over and the batsman has not been dismissed, he is said to be ‘out’.

 No ball: An illegal delivery – usually because of the bowler overstepping the popping crease – in which an extra is scored for the batting side.

Obstructing the field: A batsman wilfully obstructs an opposing fielder either by word or action.

Over: The delivery of six consecutive balls by one bowler.

Over rate: The number of overs bowled per hour.

Over the wicket: A right-handed bowler bowls with his or her right arm next to the stumps. A left -handed bowler bowls with his or her left arm next to the stumps

Popping crease: One of two lines in the field where the wickets are positioned (the other line is the bowling crease). A batsman who does not have either the bat or some part of his body touching the ground behind the popping crease is considered out of his ground and is in danger of being dismissed as ‘run out’ or ‘stumped’.

 Pull: A shot played to the leg side to a short pitched delivery between mid-wicket and backward square leg.

Rotate the strike: The batsmen look to make singles wherever possible in order to ensure that they are both continually facing deliveries and making runs. The opposite of this is ‘farm the strike’.

Round the wicket: This is when a right-handed bowler bowls to the right of the stumps. The opposite of this is ‘over the wicket’.

Run out: A dismissal by a member of the fielding side who breaks the wicket while the batsman is outside his crease in the process of making a run.

Run rate: The average number of runs scored per over.

Runner: A player from the batting side assisting an injured batsman in running between the wickets. The runner must wear and carry the same equipment as the batsman. The injured batsman still needs to stay in his ground. Both the injured batsman and the runner can be run out.

Short run: This happens if the batsman fails to ground his bat behind the popping crease while making a run.

Sightscreen: A large board placed behind the bowler beyond the boundary, used to provide contrast to the ball and aid the striker in seeing the ball when it is delivered. Typically it is coloured white to contrast a red ball or black to contrast a white ball.

Striker: The batsman who faces the deliveries bowled.

Stroke: An attempt by the batsman to play a delivery.

Stump:

  1. One of the three vertical posts making up the wicket (‘off stump’, ‘middle stump’ and ‘leg stump’).
  2. A way of dismissing a batsman.
  3. The term ‘stumps’ refers to the end of a day’s play.

Target: The score the team batting second has to score to beat their opponents. This is one run more than the tally of runs scored by the team batting first.

Timed out: An incoming batsman must step onto the field of play within two minutes of the last batsman being dismissed.

 Twelve-man: Traditionally, this is the first substitute player who fields when a member of the fielding side is injured.

 Wide: A delivery that passes illegally wide of the wicket and an extra is scored for the batting side. A wide does not count as one of the six valid deliveries that must be made in each over; an extra ball must be bowled for each wide.

Yorker: A (usually fast) delivery that is pitched very close to the batsman. The intent is for it to bounce exactly underneath his bat or on his toes in the block hole. A perfectly-pitched fast Yorker is almost impossible to keep out. A bad Yorker can turn into a half-volley (too short) or a full toss (too full).

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