Cricket, boy what a game! People usually associate cricket with stuffy English aristocrats and private school young adults, but that’s far from the case. This sport has been growing in popularity in recent years and is more accessible than ever. Little league games and cricket hobby shops keep popping up around the globe, making it easy for anyone to get into the sport. Yes, even here in Australia! So, say you want to pick up the bat and take a wack, what gear would you need?
We’ll start things off with the humble cricket bat, the active component of the cricket bat and ball combo. The bat is used to wack the balls with ease at any direction the player deems necessary.
The bats are usually made from English willow, carved, cured and prepared in the exact same manner since the 19th century. To help protect the bottom of your bat from excess moisture and injury, many modern designs are equipped with a toe guard. To shorten the necessary “knocking-in” time, some cricket bats are pre-conditioned, while others have an ‘anti-scuff’ layer added for extra protection.
The English cricket ball is the thing that actually moves the game along. Like with most sports, the point of the game is to put this little ball in the opponent’s goal. This would make you think that the ball itself is not that special, but you’d be surprised what the quality cricket balls on the market can do for your game. Depending on the substance that they are made of, cricket balls are divided into cork (leather) balls and tennis balls.
Cricket cork (leather) balls are made from three materials: cork, string, and leather.
Cork is used for the centre of the cricket ball;
String is wrapped around the core to reinforce it;
Leather is used to encase core and string interior.
These balls are mainly used in professional cricket games, and can be found in three types: red, white and pink. The red cork ball is usually used in multi-day tournaments, due to the contrast it creates against the players white dressing clothes. It’s usually used in cricket test matches.
The white cork ball is used in limited games where players wear coloured clothes. In such occasions, red balls won’t be visible due to coloured clothing and hence the need for a white ball. They are usually used in cricket ODI matches and T20 matches. Pink cricket balls are used to play day-night multi-day games due to their greater nighttime visibility.
Tennis cricket balls are also known as tape balls or cricket training balls. These are mainly used for street cricket and beginner level cricket and can be found in two main types:
Heavy tennis cricket ball
Light tennis cricket ball.
The cricket helmet is the most important element of cricket clothing, because of the protection it provides from fast-moving balls and powerful impacts on your head. A helmet is essential for both amateurs and professional players alike, making it the only mandatory piece of clothing junior cricketers have to wear during friendly and competitive matches.
The key feature is the cricket batting helmet shell, which helps to provide optimum protection and shock absorption from all forms of impacts. Additional force absorption and comfort are provided by the inner layers, while the outer layers take the impact brunt. The grill is the front portion that serves as a face shield, while minimally impeding the vision of the batsman. The grill has passed through numerous materials over the years, but because of its strength and stiffness, metal has become the modern alternative.
To mitigate the impact of a fast cricket ball and to provide a soft, comfortable fit, padding is inserted within the cricket helmet. Padding provides a safe, close fit due to batsmen being exposed to abrupt movements that could dislodge the helmet and damage their vision.
By securing the cricket helmet to your head, the chin strap offers more protection, preserving its reasonably fixed position if the grill is struck by a cricket ball. In the event of an impact, the chin guard also provides extra shock absorption.
For batsmen, batting gloves are necessary. Your hands and fingers are pretty delicate parts of your body and can sometimes be hit or stuck when playing against the handle of the bat. So, what makes a good cricket glove? What is it made of?
The traditional material of choice was raw cotton, but it has since been replaced by high-density foams that have greater impact protection and lighter weight. Top-end gloves also have a high amount of HD foam that is protected by plastic inserts that are resilient. This gives the finger greater security, especially the first two bottom-hand fingers, which are at high risk of impact.
During the game, the amount of comfort allowed by gloves will largely depend on the materials used for the palm of the hand. The economic alternative that provides very little absorption of moisture is cotton and PVC, making them not the best summer choice. Cow leather is an option that is relatively long-lasting and offers improved comfort. The most comfortable and soft of the base materials is calfskin leather, but it’s prone to wear and tear, making it not the longest-lasting choice. Due to its powerful but light profile, kangaroo leather is the most common option.
Basically, to prevent sliding in wet weather, cricket players should have a pair of cricket boots or spikes. Instead of shoes, these should be worn because they are stronger and more likely to protect your toes and feet from a cricket ball impact. Because of this, cricket shoes are highly customisable and can be tailored to provide you with optimal fit, while still maintaining toe and slip protection.
Batting pads, or also called leg guards, are an entirely necessary part of the apparel of a cricket player and exist to cover the shins, knees and sections of the lower thigh of a batsman. Pads are usually supported by three Velcro straps to securely fasten the protective gear to the leg. Using solid, long-lasting and ultra-light synthetic materials such as PVC, PU and high-density foam, contemporary leg guards are developed, providing comfort and safety at minimal levels of fatigue.
It’s recommended to prioritise the better quality ones when going for pads, because of their higher levels of impact protection and shock absorption. Height and a good match are a crucial factor as well. If you get leg guards that are too small or too big, they can limit mobility, adversely affect stamina and lower your performance levels.
With a white shirt, white trousers, white socks and white briefs being a prerequisite, white is the colour of the sport. The clothing that the player wears not only serves an aesthetic, but also a functional reason. Although offering fundamental protection from the elements, the clothing should breathe, be comfortable and light. For those cold days, a jumper is perfect and a hat will protect your eyes and scalp from the sun.
To play in the game, optimise performance and be shielded from the impact of a hardball, a cricketer needs a lot of specialised equipment. So, obviously, you need to choose a good cricket bag to store and transport all this equipment. Due to the space requirement of gear like cricket pads and the accumulative weight of heavy objects such as balls and bats, cricket players need specialist cricket bags. On the market, cricket wheelie bags, cricket holdalls and cricket rucksacks are all available, while some new bags come with additional practical features, such as a cool bag to keep your energy drinks cold.
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