Knocking in your Cricket Bat
A cricket bat is a tool made from raw materials and not manufactured. Naturally the condition of the bat will deteriorate over time and continuous play. The life of the bat depends exclusively on the preparation and maintenance given by the owner. Even though all bats come pressed by the manufacturer, it is essential that a cricket bat undergo a process called knocking. This process is used to compact the fibers in the blade in order to protect the bat from splintering when striking the cricket ball. Effective knocking will not only improve the performance of the bat but will significantly increase the lifespan. Some cricket bats sold as pre-prepared or hammer-edged are factory prepared and claim to be ready for use. It is recommended for the player to condition even those bats themselves as cricket bats can never be over knocked and the more time spent on preparation, the better the bat will perform.
Prior to knocking, the blade of the bat should be brushed with linseed oil, taking precaution to avoid the splice. Two coats an hour, no less than 24 hours apart will ensure that the blade fibers remain supple and keep the blade from cracking during the knocking in process. Using a special mallet or old cricket ball, condition the blade by concentrating primarily on its edges. The blade should be struck continuously with gradually increasing force over a period of no less than six full hours. Specific attention should be given to the edges making sure that the blade is well shaped. The mallet or ball should be deflected across the blade to prevent damage as can be caused if struck at an angle.
To ensure the knocking in process was performed successfully, the second stage in conditioning the bat is to do a few short catches with an old quality cricket ball. If small surface cracks or indentions become visible during play, it is a good indication that the bat requires further attention. Repeat the knocking in process for an additional two hours before beginning the second stage once more. Once these stages are complete the bat should be ready for use in a cricket match, though it is recommended to wait at least two weeks from purchase.
Further maintenance of the blade is essential for the bat to remain in good playing condition. Periodically the blade should be carefully rubbed down with fine sandpaper and a light coat of linseed oil applied. This will ensure that the surface continues to stay supple and keep the bat from drying out. Apply no more than four light coats per year as it is equally important to ensure that the bat is not over-oiled as this will lead to a reduction in performance.