John Simpson Middlesex CCC
As a professional cricketer, the tools of your trade are of most importance. When looking at specific bats shapes with Gray Nicolls, I always wanted something that was full shaped, picked up light (around 2lb 9oz) and had between 6-8 grains as I knew that’s what i had in previous years.
To us batters these are the main things we look for when choosing our willow, along with being playable from ball one.
Not at one stage had I really thought about the profile of the bat high/mid/low when it came to my choices. It was only this winter working alongside a very good family friend Chris Hall, that this idea was thrown at me.
Over the next 3 months, myself and Chris worked closely using an array of bats specifically made by Gray Nicolls from 2lb 8oz - 2lb 11oz with all profiles from high/mid/low. After hitting some balls with my specific Gray Nicolls bats (net bats) which weighed 2lb 10oz and 2lb 11oz we recorded the data using stancebeam, before delving into the different weighted and profiled bats.
After hitting balls and recording data with all the different weighted bats, the numbers surprised me and gave me some invaluable insight into the what plays best for me against pace,spin and power hitting for white ball cricket. My consistency of strike on contact gave varied data and allowed me to narrow down to what bat weight/profile worked best for my game. Here are some of my insights:-
For me 2lb 8oz the bat felt to light as my contact points were slightly in front of myself therefore producing an inconsistant strike. 2lb 9oz is the weight I use. The mid blade profile gave me the most consistant strike and contact points. A lot of my bats have been more on the low profile in England, but having used the data collected I have now started to use the mid blade profile. This weight and profile also provided me with my quickest hand speed when facing spin. The ability to use my feet and hit over the top but also being able to capitalise on anything the was over pitched or slightly short. When it came to white ball hitting, 2lb 10oz low profile gave me the highest smash factor and consistency of strike at the end of an innings. At 2lb 11oz my strike became inconsistant, which then affected the power output along with the ability to time the ball as effectively as I would like.
Defensive shots with all of the bats, my hands decelerated on contact point which allows you to play the ball late. This happens at a split second from when the ball is released, to when you are looking to either attack or defend the ball. We explored the possibility of being able to defend the ball at the same speed as our hands are moving to impact. Why? If you defend the ball when the bat is hardly moving then ball goes nowhere, whereas if we can maintain the speed of our hands and impact being the same, this will result in hopefully more runs where we defend the ball for 1, we might be looking at 2 or potentially 3 runs.
Depending on which country you play in or play against, we all have what we think works best. For example in the sub continent where the bounce is low and the ball skids on, we might look at a low profile around 2lb 8-11oz. Whereas in Australia/South Africa we might use a higher profile bat around 2lb 8/9oz as the conditions are usually quick and bouncy. In England/New Zealand where the tracks tend to be slightly slower,ball swings and seams around consistently we start to look at mid profile bat around 2lb 8-10oz. As with anything, adapting to conditions and being fluid with what could potentially lie ahead is what is going to give us the best chance to be successful.