Sportsmart Northcote Manager, Tom Kilpatrick
Q. Why is it so important to choose the correct junior cricket equipment?
Children learn many skills and techniques early on in their sports development that they will keep through their playing days. If the cricket equipment they use is not right for them, their technique development will be poor. This could mean the difference between a future Australian cricketer or not.
Q. So, how do you size up a junior cricketer?
Firstly, the most important piece of equipment is the cricket bat. Too often kids come in and see a (senior-sized) bat that they love that is just too big for them. These bats are too heavy and too long for younger cricketers. At Sportsmart, our staff will size up the junior cricketer for the correct size bat. We check the length of the bat by making sure that it comes to the child’s wrist when standing up straight. We check the weight by getting the child to hold the bat by the end of the handle in their less dominant hand. This process is great for parents to know too – the senior-sized bats children may initially wish to get come with senior-sized price tags. Not only are junior bats made at the correct size for children, they are also much more affordable.
Q. What kind of questions do you get asked about the cricket bats?
Often, we get asked whether the child can ‘grow into’ the bat. Obviously, children grow – it is almost certain that a child will grow out of a bat at some stage. It is vital that children never play with a bat that is too big for them. It is far better to choose the correct size in a cheaper bat that can then be replaced when the child outgrows it than a more expensive bat that the child will have to use for multiple seasons.
Q. Why are some cricket bats cheaper?
It has to do with the quality (grade) and type of willow (wood) used to make the bat. Most senior bats (and some more expensive junior bats) are made from English Willow. English Willow is a soft wood that provides great rebound off the bat. However, being so soft, these bats take a great deal of care and maintenance during their lifetime. They need to be prepared carefully prior to use (see our article on how to prepare a bat). English Willow is then graded into four grades, with the better grades being more balanced and providing more rebound from the blade. Junior bats are commonly made from Kashmir willow. This willow is naturally harder and more suited to the realities of what a junior cricket bat needs to be – that is, hard-wearing and less expensive.