Cricket: Newbery’s proud bat heritage

Cricket brand Newbery is proud of its heritage hand-crafting cricket bats, a heritage it is carrying on well into the 21st Century, as it tells SGB Sports.

At Newbery we can trace our batmaking heritage back to the early

1900s when the Newbery family first made cricket bats in Robertsbridge, East

Sussex. John Newbery’s father, Len, was a bat-maker and partner of Nicolls Bats, which later merged with Grays of Cambridge and become Gray-Nicolls, and had made bats since the time of WG Grace.

Len’s skills were handed down to his only son John, who founded John Newbery Ltd in 1981. John’s legendary reputation as a master batmaker quickly spread throughout the world. Senior craftsman Tim Keeley is today the master bat-maker of Newbery, using the same skills to produce cricket bats that John passed on during their years together. The philosophy remains the same that quality, performance and style comes first.

English willow is by it’s nature a soft fibrous reed. Performance and durability are enhanced by drying and pressing and during normal usage willow will become bruised, scarred or dented simply due to the nature of the game. The performance of the bat will not be affected. Such marking can occur at any time during the bat’s lifespan.

There can be no definitive length of time that a cricket bat will last. The condition of a bat deteriorates with use. The length of time before a player needs to replace the bat will depend upon: the amount of use; the weight of bat, as heavier bats tend to be more durable than lighter bats; and the care with which the bat is treated.

Before use, two coats of Newbery cricket bat oil should be gently rubbed into the front, back, edges and toe of the blade, taking care to avoid the splice, 24 hours apart. Oiled correctly, the bat fibres should be supple and the face and edges will dent rather than crack during the knocking-in process.

The bat should be carefully knocked-in with a Newbery bat mallet concentrating on the blade and most importantly, the edge of the blade. Knocking-in is the process of hardening and conditioning of the blade’s surface.

The bat should be struck with gradually increasing force in all areas where one would normally expect to hit the ball although the edges or toe should never be struck at right angles as this would be likely to cause damage. This process should take in the region of four hours, although it may vary, as every bat is different. Finally, start proper use of the bat in the nets against an old ball. Under no circumstances should a bat be used in match conditions less than two weeks following purchase.

‘Hammer edge’ bats are factory prepared and are ready for use. However it is important to remember that cricket bats can never be over knocked-in and so the more time that is spent preparing the bat the better the performance will be and the longer the bat will last. If your bat has been fitted with an anti-scuff plastic sheet then this will need to be removed every six months and two light coats of Newbery bat oil reapplied to maintain performance.

During use the blade of the bat should, periodically, be rubbed down with fine sandpaper and a light coat of Newbery bat oil reapplied in order to keep the surface supple and prevent the bat from drying out. It is equally important to ensure that the bat is not over-oiled as this will lead to a deadening of the bat and a reduction in performance. As a rough guide, apply no more than four light coats per year.

At the end of each cricket season, a Newbery bat should be cleaned, lightly oiled and stored in a cool, dry location away from direct heat so as not to dry the bat out thereby making it brittle and susceptible to future damage.