Wednesday, 11 January 2012

On light bats and manky boots

My ongoing search for a bat-maker who makes a full-size bat lighter than 2lb 7oz is still ongoing. I've looked up every bat manufacturer I could find, and I found at least 36, but as yet I haven't seen one that says anything other than something along the lines of "our hefty bats have monstrously large edges, a middle the size of a planet and when you walk out to bat with half a willow tree under your arm the fielding side will have no alternative but to face up to the sheer inadequacy of their own respective manhoods and spontaneously burst into tears". I exaggerate, but we all know that's what they're trying to infer.

Well if that floats your boat, fine, but I'm not convinced. It smacks too much of group-think. While it's true to say that a heavier bat will hit a ball further, the important proviso is that the batsman hits the ball in the first place, and speaking for myself the sheer inertia of modern bats leaves me playing catch-up. Maybe I'm not strong enough, and so be it, but here's a thought: every study shows that modern sedentary lifestyles are meaning people are increasing less strong than their predecessors, and yet those same predecessors used much, much lighter bats.

Enough of my suck-it-and-see hypothesis, here's what Geoff Boycott has to say on the matter:
Occasionally people asked me to try out their bats but I nearly always found they were too heavy for me. A heavy bat is more difficult to control and without control it is impossible to time the ball correctly. Timing is the secret of hitting the ball well. I used a light bat weighing 2lb 4oz and my advice to the average batsman is to use a lighter bat which is easier to control.
So you see, I'm not alone.

I think I can give up on the mainstream bat manufacturers, so I may as well resign myself to finding a specialist willing to fulfil what now appears a strange request but was once commonplace: a light, unbowed bat with thin edges and a modest profile. After all, it's not the size, it's what you do with it that counts.

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Here's an important tip you won't read in the coaching manuals - whatever you do, don't leave your wet, muddy boots unwashed in an airtight container for any length of time. You're liable to later discover mouldy boots with rusty studs. It was always the practise at my first school that, be it rugby, football or cricket, if you wanted to play on the Saturday you had to get the muddy toothbrush out and have your boots nice and clean on Friday afternoon. It was a good habit to get in to, and one I've tried to stick with since I started playing again, but at the back end of last year I slipped, which is why I've had to spend the afternoon prising the studs out of my best boots.

I have three pairs of boots - one with studs for grass wickets, one blanked off for the artificial pitch, and another older pair that are starting to wear out. I last wore the Gel Advance 3 boots during the Tour game against Bishopston, but since that was my last game on a grass wicket I left them wrapped up in the carrier bag I keep them in to keep everything else in my kitbag clean. A few weeks later I finally discovered my mistake and tried my best to give them a good clean, but while they're still perfectly usable they do look a tiny bit mouldy. Today I've been changing the rusty studs for some fresh ones, and it was bloody hard work getting some of them out, as the sockets had started to corrode as well. Anyway, some elbow grease and a few judicious squirts of WD40 later I've sorted them out. Learn from my fail.

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