Getting a good bat isn’t just about buying a nice model, it’s also about how you look after it.
Use raw linseed oil or special bat oil. Apply a small amount of oil (about size of a 50p/inch in diameter) to the face of the bat and then work it in to the rest of the blade, edges, toe and back. But do not oil the splice area as this may soften the glue.
Keep the bat horizontal on its back for 24 hours. This will allow the oil to soak in. When it is dry remove any oil that hasn’t soaked in – use fine sandpaper or scrape lightly with a sharp blade.
Repeat the process, but do not oil the back again. The bat is then ready for knocking-in and soon it'll be ready for its first game of cricket!
Do not over-oil. More bats are spoilt by over-oiling than by under-oiling. Over-oiling adds weight to the bat, deadens it and can even cause wood rot. Over-oiled bats take longer to be repaired, as they have to be dried out first.
Non-oil, coated or uncovered bats should not be oiled.
It’s important to look after your equipment in sport, and knocking your cricket bat in is key. This is best done with a purpose-made bat mallet – either ball-on-handle or smooth wooden mallet.
The aim of knocking-in is to continue a process which began at the bat factory when the blade was pressed between heavy steel rollers; namely to compress the soft willow so that it better stands up to the impact of the smaller, harder ball.
There are no rules to how long you should knock-in your bat. Like walnut trees ”the more you beat’em the better they bees”. However, make sure you give the edges including the toe edge a good going over.
Then play the bat in gently in the nets. Bat defensively, concentrate on getting the ball in the middle of the bat, do not ‘reach’ for the ball outside the off stump and don’t swing hard across the line.