Cricket bats are typically made of willow wood, and should be given proper care before use to ensure long life. Proper preplay care includes knocking in the bat and oiling it if needed. Even the best cricket bat will crack or split eventually, however, due to repeated hits with a cricket ball. Knowing the warning signs of cracking in a cricket bat will help you avoid damage that could seriously affect how you bat.
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Cracking in the Handle
One common warning sign of cracking in the handle of the cricket bat is that the handle suddenly feels loose, as though it has been broken, but no visible crack can be found. This feeling may mean that the rubber adhesive inside the handle has broken. If you continue to use the bat, the handle will crack all the way through. To fix this warning sign before an actual split occurs, carefully remove the string on the handle. Using gentle pressure, pull the canes apart just enough to insert a thin layer of superglue. Retie the string and let the bat rest for 24 hours before testing it by batting some small throws. If the handle does not feel solid, you may need to take the bat to a professional cricket bat repair shop.
Cracking in the Toe
The toe of the bat is the weakest part of the bat, yet it is also the part that faces the heaviest damage. As a result, the toe of the bat is more likely to crack or split than any other part of the bat. Always examine the toe of the bat thoroughly after every use to see if any hairline cracks have formed. Small cracks in the toe of the bat may be repaired with superglue. If the crack is more than two inches long, however, you may need to use a high-quality PVA adhesive. Do not use epoxy, as it is not flexible enough to prevent the bat from cracking further.
Cracks in the Face of the Bat
Small horizontal and vertical cracks in the face and edges of a cricket bat are normal, even if the bat has been properly knocked in. When cracks begin to appear depends on the individual bat. Some bats begin cracking almost immediately, while some may not crack for a year or more. Patch small cracks with superglue to increase the life of the bat. Take large cracks to a professional for inspection and repair.
Preventing Cracks in a Cricket Bat
All cricket bats will crack with sufficient use. However, you can prevent cracks that shorten the expected life of the bat with proper bat care. Always oil your bat using only raw linseed oil. Never dip your bat in oil or apply so much oil it forms drops or drips down the bat. After oiling, knock in your bat thoroughly. It is always better to take more time than you need to knock in a bat than to take too little time. Finally, applying an adhesive-backed facing to your bat can stop cracks already forming on the face and edges of the bat and prevent new cracks from starting. You should especially consider applying facing if your bat's face or edges crack within the first few games you use it.