If you ask any batsman, how does it feel to hold the cricket bat in hand? The answer will be- solace. One needs to understand that a lot of effort, energy and resources go into carving a cricket bat out of a piece of wood (willow).
Once this is done and eventually sold in the market, the actual preparation begins once a cricketerstarts knocking the bat.
Let us first understand what knocking means:
Knocking is one of the most important aspects of preparing your bat for future use. It is a process by which the wood or willow of the bat is compressed and strengthen to prepare it for day to day as well as for match use.
Knocking can be done with the help of wooden bat or a ball mallet (shaped like a hammer). This is done to gain maximum performance output as well as prevention from unwanted damages to the bat.
Why knocking is needed?
Knocking the cricket bat for about six to eight hours is recommended but this can go up to 16 hours using a mallet. When you knock a cricket bat the fibres of the willow compress and this helps in knitting the fibres together.
This makes the bats withstand deliveries bowled as fast as 90/95 miles an hour. The bat is divided into four areas for the process of knocking namely face, toe and two edges (inside and outside).
Always remember that knocking should begin gently and later on more force is applied. While using a mallet go up and down the face of the bat or the grains several times until the entire face of the bat is covered. The edges form starting from the shoulder of the bat right to the bottom or the toe.
The edges need to be knocked gently and this will make it more rounded and firm in shape, it prevents the chip from coming off. The toe of the bat is one of the most vulnerable regions. Start knocking the toe very gently and then go on to exert some pressure.
Any cricket bat is prone to normal wear and tear during its lifetime. Since it is made using natural material expect it to undergo changes in the form of cracks on the face. If one feels that the bat is not knocked properly then you can devote more 15 – 20 hours for knocking it. Do not miss out on knocking the area of the bat that is covered by sticker, equal weightage should be given to this part as well.
One advice with regard to knocking is that once you are done with it do not directly use it to face bowlers either in the nets or in a match. Instead use a few old balls and do throwdowns (where one person throws the ball towards you and you try to hit in with the middle of the bat or the sweet spot) for a few days which will further strengthen it.
Overall the process of knocking at the preparatory stage of the bat leads to an increase in the power of the bat (stroke play). A few bats available in the market these days come marked as pre-knocked. The point that needs to be noted here is that even though these bats are pre-knocked it still requires another round of knocking. The only difference will be in the approach as to the process being made shorter so as to enhance bat’s performance.
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