Why Knock It In?
English Willow, by its nature, is quite soft and fibrous. Against the speed and hardness of a fast-bowl this can leave your bat susceptible to damage. Properly knocking in your bat will provide resistance and durability as well as enhance performance.
The process of ‘knocking in’ your Warrior bat should be done before any match play. It’s a simple process and is worth the time taken given the added longevity and the extra performance you’ll get from your bat.
Step One – Oiling
If your bat is delivered without any facing material you’ll also need to oil your bat.
The oiling process allows the fibres of the bat to knit together and makes them more subtle. This forms a flexible surface, allowing the bat to stretch as oppose to crack on impact.
Using an open weave cloth or ‘Chux Wipe’, rub a light coating of Raw Linseed Oil on the main face of the bat and it’s edges (just enough to be visible but not trickling down the bat face, a teaspoon should do the job). If you do apply too much wipe it off, don’t try to rub it in.
It is also fine to oil the back of the bat but you must avoid the splice of the bat (the very top section of the blade). After you have oiled the bat, leave overnight in a horizontal position before repeating the oiling process a further two times, leaving overnight in a horizontal position each time.
Step Two – Knocking in
Many mass-manufactured bats are advertised as ready to use without the need for knocking in, but the knocking in process is done using machinery and this may result in the over pressing of the bat, which, over its lifetime, will be detrimental to its performance.
The purpose of knocking in is to harden and knit together the fibrous surface of the bat before it is hit at full speed on the pitch.
Before you start please note that the back of the bat should never be touched with the mallet (or the ball).
As a test of your knocking in skills you may wish to dig a fingernail into the bat before you start and periodically throughout the process, as the knocking process progresses this should become harder to do (providing you’re doing it correctly).
The time it takes will depend on your preference, how hard you are hitting the bat as well as the individual bat. Each is different, but as a rough guide, you should allow 1 – 2 hours each time.
To ensure you cover the entire bat, be methodical. Start just under the splice (the very top section of the blade) and work your way down, hitting the bat at a consistence pace and strong enough to create little compressions into the bat.
After attending to the main blade, turn your attention to the edges in order to round off the edges and prevent them from getting damaged on the pitch. The mallet should be held at 45 degrees to the edge of the bat to enable the mallet to compress the willow. As with the face, work methodically down the edges making small compressions until the whole surface has a smooth, rounded appearance. Store your bat in a clean dry place overnight and repeat the process the next day.
Step Three – How To Test
After knocking in your bat it should be ready for use. One final test will determine if the process is complete. Try bouncing an old ball on the bat and hit some small catches. Presuming this does not leave any indentations on the bat, get a friend to bowl some old leather balls as oppose to new ones as they will not leave such a large indentation if your bat is not quite ready for them.
These balls should not leave any marks in the bat. If they do, it needs more knocking in. If no marks are made by the old leather balls, progress to new balls. If you have knocked it in well there should be very few signs of indentations. Enjoy an hour or so just playing a few defensive and gentle attacking strokes whilst watching for indentations and getting used to your new bat.
Your bat is now ready.