Enquiries about damaged cricket bats are probably the most common communication we receive, often from parents or players new to the game or people who have been ill-advised in the past. In this article we will provide you with the definite facts about what you can expect from a cricket bat and which type of damage is normal, and when a cricket bat will need to be sent back for inspection. We have seen over 20,000 cricket bats so we really do know what we are talking about!
Firstly, it is important to remember that cricket bats are made from willow - a soft fibrous wood which gives excellent rebound qualities when hit with a hard leather ball. The downside to this is that it will of course crack, split and dent. This can happen at any time, but usually most cracks appear at the beginning when the wood is still soft and not fully compressed. For this reason, we always recommend knocking your cricket bat in with a wooden bat mallet, particularly around the edges and toe where the wood is most vulnerable from mis-timed shots and yorkers. The longer you can knock a bat in, and use it in the nets gently with an old ball, the less likely your bat will crack during the first few weeks of use. Also, it is important to note, that the idea that the more expensive the bat, the longer it will last is a myth. Actually, more expensive bats are prone to more damage because they are graded for performance and high rebound meaning the wood is even softer. Cheap Kashmir Willow (under £50) which is much harder and grown in India is less likely to crack but won't perform anywhere near as well as English Willow bats.
However, there is no way to ever eliminate cracking and you should expect cracks and dents to appear on your bat throughout its use.
Below are some typical pictures of cracks on cricket bats.
If damage is similar to the above, where the crack has not gone through to the back of the bat, then this is perfectly normal and is nothing to worry about. It will not affect the performance of the bat in any way. It is purely visual and the bat can be used without any worry at all. Even if you think it may get worse, you should still continue to use the bat as in the majority of cases, the damage will not deteriorate to the point where the bat is unusable.
We recommend oiling your bat once a year and applying a clear antiscuff sheet which will help retain the oil and prevent the cracks from spreading. Cracks around the edges and toe should be taped with fibre bat tape. Linseed oil, bat tape and antiscuff can be found on the bat care page of our website under accessories.
Occasionally, bats may genuinely break, either through the handle, the splice or a split through the toe. In this case the bat will become unusable and feel "dead" when you bounce a ball on it. Below are some photos showing this kind of damage.
If your bat resembles any of the damage above, then it will need to be sent back to the bat maker for inspection. If this is within 6 months of purchase then a free of charge repair (if that is possible) or a replacement will be offered. Bats purchased outside of this period can either be repaired for a small fee or at our discretion, we may offer a discount off another bat if the bat is less than 12 months old.
If you feel that a bat you purchased from us within the last 12 months is genuinely broken, the please email us some pictures and we will be able to advise you if we think a return is necessary.