Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A few new bits of kit

In the past few weeks I've been on something of a spree, buying the odd thing here or there to either replace worn items (such as batting gloves) or else to upgrade to something a little more to my liking.

Firstly on gloves, both my pairs from last year were starting to show a bit of wear, which I suppose is not too surprising considering how often I've been using them, with some weeks earlier this year involving two net sessions and two matches. Obviously I haven't been compiling any Bradman-esque innings but it all adds up. I decided to take a punt on some smaller gloves as the ones I've had have always seemed a bit chunky across the knuckle, so I now have some youth-sized Slazenger "Xtreme" gloves for use in the nets, while I use a pair of '09 spec "Elite Pro Xtreme" gloves (pictured) in matches as they're a bit more comfortable and seem to provide better protection. I've also bought some little rubber thimbles to put in the gloves to protect the first three fingers on my right hand, as I really don't want to have my bowling affected by bruised or broken fingers.

Next there's some new boots, as the trusty Asics Gel Gully 2s I bought last year are starting to show the strain of hour after hour of pounding round the nets practising my bowling. Hopefully they'll still last a few months more before they become unserviceable, but given that I practise on an artificial wicket, and that we tend to play on artificial at home and grass away, it's about time I got another pair of boots to save all the faffing changing studs all the time. When I started playing last year I took a punt on Asics (having been an Adidas man for a long time) and I've been very impressed with the quality of their boots, and the Gel Advance 3s that arrived today look like they won't disappoint. I chose the limited edition green and black ones as they match the stickers on my bat, and coincidentally Green & Blacks is also my favourite brand of chocolate!

The last BIG purchase has been that I've finally given in to temptation and bought some Morrant International Ultralite pads, as seen adorning the legs of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and others over the years. The bargain basement Slazenger County pads I started with last year were OK to start with but didn't exactly give off a great impression, while the Slaz Ultimates I got in the winter have been a bit of a disappointment considering how much they cost, as they are far too bulky and too heavy (900g each) and it's not doing my footwork any good. I picked up some cheap Aero P2s, but they look far too weird for me to bring myself to wear them in a match, and they're not tremendously comfortable either. They basically consist of a hard foam pad with a very thin removable cushion on the inside, and the cushion is a little too thin for you not to be aware of the rigid outer pad. They are very cleverly designed though and weigh a lot less than normal pads (they're 550g each), so I don't want to be too harsh.

The Ultralites, though, are in a different league. They are both very light (450g as sold) and have a nice look about them that is both traditional and a little bit unusual. However I have had a couple of issues with them where I've had to change them slightly. Firstly it seemed a bit strange that given you've gone a long way to make the pads so very light, you then stitch some big rubber Morrant logos onto both of the straps, so I managed to chop those off and I've also taped over the logos on the front - I'm not a billboard after all. Secondly the set-up of the pads is similar to the Aeros, with a foam outer pad and a cushion underneath, but this time the outer pad was nice and flexible but the cushioning was rather uncomfortable as it's quite firm and bulky, and it's also quite heavy. I've cobbled together a solution by swapping the inner cushions for the detachable cushions off my Slaz Ultimates and that seems comfy and light (now down to just 360g!!!), so I'll see how that works. I don't doubt that the actual protection they provide will be a fair bit below the Ultimates, but it's not as if Michael Holding plays in the Stone and District league so I'm pretty sure that won't be an issue. All in all though, they do seem very good pads and hopefully I can have a tiny bit of the success Sunil, Sachin, VVS et al have had with them...

Finally on the "I want it and if I don't get it I'll squeam and squeam and squeam" list is some sunglasses. The only sunglasses I have are prescription ones I use for driving, so they're no good for slipping on when I've already got a contact lens in, although I do use them to umpire when I've left the lens out.Oakley has a really neat feature where you can customise your own glasses, so pictured to the left is how I've configured mine - Oakley Radars with "fire iridium" lenses in something approximating the club colours.

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