Preparing your bat properly ensures not only that your bat will not break too quickly, but it also increases the performance of the bat- so it is well worth doing!
The easiest way to have your new Black Cat bat ready for match use is to select our 'knocking-in' service when ordering the bat. We have knocked-in hundreds of cricket bats, and take all the hassle and effort out of the process for you. Furthermore, the only way to absolutely guarantee your bat will receive full warranty protection is to have it factory prepared by our batmaker.
If you'd like to prepare the bat yourself, this is of course possible, and many customers choose to do so. The knocking-in process is outlined below. Please note, failure to complete all of these steps will leave the bat inadequately prepared and its warranty void.
It is far more damaging to over-oil a bat than it is to under-oil it. Therefore, we do not insist bats are oiled before 'knocking-in'. However, a small amount of Raw Linseed Oil is beneficial to the bat, and can soften the fibres on the face ready for compressing with a mallet. If the bat is oiled on the face, it should be left lying face up at room temperature for 48 hours.
The next step is to compress the fibres of the willow on the face of the bat using a special cricket mallet. This should start very gently and build up in force over time. The mallet should strike the face of the bat at right angles, with extra time/attention paid to the toe and edges, which are the most vulnerable part of the bat. The middle does need knocking-in, but less than the edges and toe. If your personal preference is for rounded edges, this can be achieved by very gently striking the edges at a slight angle. At no point should the edges be hit with any force when hitting at any angle other than 90 degrees.
An easy way to see how much more knocking-in is required is to dig a fingernail into the face of the bat. If it leaves an indentation, more work with the mallet is required. Please note: this is one of the first tests the batmaker will do if a bat is returned broken to assess the quality of preparation.
The next step is to start using the bat against a cricket ball. This ball should be a good quality ball, and should be old and therefore softer. Start by giving short catches and slowly increase the ball and bat speed (every half an hour or so) until you are having a gentle net with a bowler. Please note: if at any point the ball is leaving 'seam marks' in the face of the bat, return to Step Two for further work with the mallet.
Having given a few hundred short catches and played a few hundred defensive strokes in the nets, your bat should now be ready for use in a match. If, after your first innings, you observe seam marks or cracks in the face of the bat, return to Step Two for further work with the mallet.
Before using in a match, we advise that an anti-scuff cover is applied, which can be ordered 'loose' (not applied to the bat) at the same time as ordering your bat.
It is normal for very small cracks to appear on the face of your bat after a few innings, indeed many of the best bats 'break up' in this way. If you are concerned with your bat at any stage, stop using it, take pictures and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will advise the best course of action.