At the start of the season I touched on the importance of the player/bat relationship and I am delighted to say that the time we spent together during those cold winter nights is starting to bear fruit.
Breaking in a new piece of willow is always a time for concern.
How will it affect my game? Is it the right weight? Will it change the way I play?
Thankfully this time round I am older and wiser than in years gone by when this would have increased my anxiety levels no end.
It also helps that I haven’t had a good bat to call my own after a few years in the cricketing wilderness and I was excited about sharing runs with this new willow.
"There is so much wood in modern bats that the edges are nearly as thick as the middle of the bats that I used to use."
The way bats have changed over the last few years was the topic of discussion at training last week. Two Plumtreee players have recently bought new bats – one because of a breakage, the other just because he loves bats and couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
They are more weapon than cricket bat these days!
Willow production must have increased fourfold to cope with the demand for each bat in the modern game, there is more wood in the modern bat than in a six piece mahogany table and chairs – they are huge.
As the old guard looked on in amazement at the sheer size of the beasts the youngsters seemed totally non plussed – this was the norm for them.
There is so much wood in modern bats that the edges are nearly as thick as the middle of the bats that I used to use.
I started to reminisce about bats gone by and can still remember where it all started – the Slazenger Viv Richards Carribbean.
A size four to begin my career at the age of six, I could barely play a shot in anger. The Viv stands out in my mind because it was painted white with a huge red Slazenger V emblazoned across the front - how bizarre!
Playing in the Under 13’s pairs cricket I played an anchor role. Unable to hit the ball meaningfully off the square my sole purpose was to hold up one end and not lose my wicket in the four overs that each pair would have to endure.
Any wicket would result in an 8 run penalty for our side and the Viv did me proud. It was rarely used in the same way the big man himself would have flashed the willow but he might just have been proud of my resilience.
Robbie, my longest standing cricketing team mate, and I will always remember the Carribean white bat for producing the first boundary. A sweep down to fine leg, thankfully downhill, towards the pavilion at Aston Rowant CC in Oxfordshire – I can still picture it now!
Many more bats have followed in the footsteps of Viv. A bat from foreign lands followed with a Harrow Kookaburra, a toothpick compared to the bat wielded today.
The Hunts County Reflex that came next is without doubt the best bat I have ever owned. Far too big for me at the time but I wouldn’t be told. This 2lb 11oz, short handled monster enabled me to actually break the fielding circle.
It was more like the bats of today, meaty but with a good pick up, and it lasted for an age – a solid investment for my parents without doubt!
Bats get bigger but not any heavier thanks to the new technology and I am definitely a big fan – I just don’t want my new weapon to break!