Perhaps you’ve gone from playing with softer practice balls, or even tape balls in the park, and now you’re starting to play cricket at a better level. You’ll need one of the best hard ball cricket bats to make sure that you can play your shots.
There are plenty of horror stories to be aware of. If you buy a flimsy bat, or you don’t go through the knocking in process, there is every chance that the first time a hard ball hits it, a dent, or worse, a crack will appear in the bat. You don’t have to be facing 90 MPH deliveries for this to happen, either.
Why take any chances? Even if you don’t have the biggest budget, you can choose a bat that will do a great job and not get damaged by the hard ball when you go to play on a Saturday afternoon.
Hard Ball Cricket Bat Buying Guide
We know, buying a cricket bat can be confusing, especially if you don’t have loads of experience in doing so. Our buying guide can help to arm you with the knowledge to make the right decision, whether you’re the average village cricketer or you fancy yourself for the England Test Team.
Here are some of the things to consider before buying a bat:
- Size. SH and LH are the standards for adults, meaning short handle or long handle. Long handle models tend to feel a bit more natural if you are over 6’2” in height. There is also an in-between size, Harrow, which is good for younger teenagers and small frames, and a full selection of children’s sizes, too.
- Material. Basically, playing with a hard ball you are going to want to find a willow cricket bat that offers plenty of quality. Salix Alba willow from Kashmir can provide an alternative to English Willow, which can get really expensive, and Kashmir Willow may even be stronger over the seasons to come. The wood grade is also important, with Grade 1 being the best available in terms of imperfections.
- Weight. The weight of a bat can make a big difference to how you play. Most bats are on a scale of 2lb 7oz to about 3lb. The more versatile bats are somewhere in the middle of this range, but everyone has a preference. Real power hitters of the hard ball may want a heavier bat, touch players can opt for a lighter option.
There are other considerations, such as whether the bat has a low middle, perfect for playing on English pitches, and whether it comes knocked in already when you purchase it.
Hard Ball Vs. Practice Ball
If you’ve ever felt a match ball then you will know how hard it truly is, especially before it’s been hit around a bit to soften it up. We’ve already briefly mentioned the fact that a hard cherry can cause damage to the bat, especially if the bat is poor quality or not properly looked after. Even a great bat might occasionally get damaged by the ball.
On top of this, the ball will not travel as far off a poor quality cricket bat. You need a firm and sturdy bat, and one that is made out of some form of willow, in order to be able to do yourself justice. You could have all the power in the world, but without a firm bat then you’re just not going to reach the boundary.
A practice ball might be as simple as a “tape ball” – a tennis ball with tape to replicate seam movement. Or, it might be a slightly softer ball that has seen a lot of use. This can’t really replicate what a brand new cherry is going to do to the bat.
The Village Cricket Bat – An Affordable Hard Ball Bat
We know that people who are looking for a hard ball bat, possibly for the first time, are not necessarily going to want to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds. Nor should they have to.
The Village Cricket Co. provides a perfect bat for under £100, and the wood is high-grade Salix Alba from India. The same great quality and the ability to play the hard ball, but at a much more palatable price tag than English Willow.
Our bat is versatile, too, with a 2lb 9oz design perfect for playing in most English conditions. It can be good for delicate 360 players but also those who just want to generate as much power as they can.
Great for beginners and village cricketers, it comes with a bag, and it is ready to play when it arrives at your front door due to the fact that it is already knocked in. The warranty of 12 months also shows how confident we are that it can handle the hard ball. This bat has been meticulously designed to be able to handle years of cricket, and plenty of punishment if you plan to go big and hit those 50s and hundreds on your local pitch.
The bat’s got a simple design, and a low middle that can suit the English conditions. You can also choose between all of the junior and adult sizes to find the perfect bat for your size and build. Don’t want to drop £500 on a bat? We don’t blame you. The Village Cricket Bat means you don’t have to, either.
Millichamp & Hall F100 SE – Best Craftsmanship
If you do want to spend a bit more on a bat, spend it wisely. M&H is a relatively small brand, but one with an impressive range, and their bats are used by some England cricketers, too.
The F100 costs a pretty penny, but it isn’t a surprise when you get to use it. The bat has amazing pickup and power enough to hit six after six if you are strong enough, but it’s a balanced bat and not a huge battering ram. At around 2lb 8oz you don’t have to have Chris Gayle power to get the most out of it.
It has a tapered toe and larger edges so the ball flies no matter how you hit it, you can play 360 if your skillset dictates, and the pronounced bow also means that the bat can give you that extra bit of oomph.
The bat’s got plenty of options for customisation and you can choose to add stickers, colours, and other details to the bat to make it your own. We actually think the minimalist design is pretty classy, too, so you might not even think you need to.
New Balance Heritage Plus Cricket Bat
Newly released for 2022, the New Balance Heritage bat is a good all-round bat using English Willow, and one that doesn’t cost the earth either.
For the village cricketer this might be a bit on the expensive side, but it is much more affordable than some other English Willow options. It’s got an understated design, and the option to choose whether you would like a light, mid, or heavy weight bat.
One of the great things about this bat is the fact that it is very forgiving, too. It has a long spine and a pretty sizeable sweet spot, meaning that if you middle it, the ball truly stays hit. It is capable of standing up to the rigours of fast bowling with a new, hard ball, too.
New Balance’s range of bats divides opinion sometimes, but they have endorsement deals with some top cricketers, and while the Heritage bat isn’t the most expensive in their range, it is a great option for those who don’t want to spend an absolute fortune, but want a reputable brand and a quality bat.
Everybody has slightly different needs and requirements from a bat, so it is vital to make sure that you have thought about yours before you take the plunge and make a purchase. There are plenty of great cricket bats for hard ball cricket when you start searching, but make sure you get the weight and design to suit your game.
The Village Cricket Bat is an exceptional option for those who aren’t in a position to spend a fortune, and the bat does a great job for the casual cricketer as well as those aspiring to play at a higher level.
All of the opinions on this list can do a great job, but with price tags ranging from under £100 to the best part of £1,000, budget is almost definitely going to come into consideration.