Cricket bats need some TLC from time-to-time. To keep your bat in top condition, there are a few basic skills that you need to learn.
When people think of bat maintenance, they usually think of “knocking-in”. This is part of the process, but oiling comes first. In this guide, we look at how to oil a cricket bat correctly to ensure that you can get a season of use out of it.
Why Do We Oil Cricket Bats?
This isn’t a vanity thing like waxing your car. Oiling a cricket bat serves a functional purpose. If you spend long enough out in the middle then your bat will see a lot of sunlight. This can dry the bat out. Over time, it becomes much more likely to crack and split, and this can mean hundreds of pounds down the drain.
Oiling a bat helps to prevent the dryness that can turn your expensive bat into kindling.
What Oil Should I Use?
Getting your hands on some oil is the first step. You will be using raw linseed oil to treat the bat. Linseed oil keeps the bat’s fibres bound and performing at their best, and keeps the bat strong.
You can buy linseed oil from a sports shop, where it will be branded as “bat oil” or something similar. However, if it is cheaper to buy at a DIY store then this is perfectly fine, too.
Linseed oil is commonly used on other wood products such as furniture, so it isn’t hard to find.
When Should I Oil My Bat?
It’s possible to over oil a bat. This makes the bat too moist and doesn’t provide the right “crack” off the willow.
Most people agree that once a season (in between seasons) is the right time to oil your bat. You shouldn’t need to do it again until the next off-season. Once a calendar year is fine, as long as the bat is kept in good condition in the meantime. If it appears to be getting particularly dry then you might need to bring forward the oiling.
Most people oil and knock-in their bat in the same couple of days. Doing it yourself is a great way to save some money, but you can also choose to pay someone to do it. Sports shops usually have someone who can oil and knock-in your bat if you aren’t confident.
How to Oil Your Bat
- Apply 2-3 teaspoons of oil to the face of the bat. You can use an old piece of rag but it doesn’t matter if you use your fingers. Make sure you don’t oil the splice, or within a CM of the splice. The oil should cover the face of the bat, the edges, the heel, and about 4 CM from the edges on the back of the bat. Covering the whole back can cause the bat to feel flat and dead.
- Lay the bat face upwards on a surface, in a dry area. If you can, put something under the bat to stop it tipping, as the oil can drain from one edge this way.
- If all of the oil has been absorbed 24 hours later, you can add a little bit more. Repeat this process until it’s not soaking up any more oil.
- Wipe off the remaining oil and you’re ready for knocking-in.
Knocking-in is the process of using a mallet to gradually “knock” the bat, compressing the fibres and keeping it in a strong condition.
Once you’ve knocked-in a bat (you can follow our guide for knocking-in, too) then it is a good idea to take the bat out and hit some balls. Use older, softer balls to start with to check that all is well with your freshly oiled bat.
At The End of The Season
When the end of the season rolls around, you can sand your bat. This should be done very lightly. It’s a way to prepare the bat for the oiling and knocking-in process that you will do before the next season starts.
Use 180-220 grit sandpaper to very cautiously sand the face, edges, and the heel of the bat. All you are trying to do is remove any dirt, marks, or splinters.
Keep it in a bat cover while you aren’t using it, until your bat is ready to be taken out and prepped for the next season once more.
A little maintenance can go a long way. Most village cricketers have to learn some level of bat care, but luckily, with the Village Cricket Bat, you don’t have to spend hours oiling and knocking in before you even start playing.
In between seasons, follow our guide on how to oil a bat ready for all those hours out in the middle racking up the runs (or in the shed wondering where it all went wrong).