Cricket Bat Willow Grading


Cricket Bat Willow Grading:

Willow
Willow, Cricvision

Cricket Bat Willow Grading: In the previous post, I wrote about the whole Bat Manufacturing process of the Cricket Bat. This post contains all the information about the Cricket Bat Willow Grading. I am going to explain you, why some bats cost more than others.

All the Bats have different characteristics from handle to toe. I mean from balance and pick up to the width of the grains. The Willow which has narrow (more) grains is softer in property. It has excellent performance qualities but shorter lifespan. In the opposite, Willow which has broader (less) grains is harder. Thus it tends to last longer but takes time to perform at its optimum level. A good combination of performance and durability would be a blade with about 7-10 grains.

Before the dispatch to manufacturers, the clefts are graded into various categories. It varies from the highest quality to the lowest one. The process of Grading takes place after the clefts are properly dried. Cricket Bat of every grade has its own particular market. Generally, there will be fewer grains in finished bats as compared to the clefts. It’s because the blades are usually wider than the finished bat. Therefore some grains are removed during the process.

Here are the various grades available in the English Willow.

Grade 1+ Willow:

This is the best and highest quality of English Willow that money can buy. The blade of this Willow contains 8-12 straight and even grains. The wood would be unbleached with blemish free natural finish. It means the blade would have minimal to no marking or discoloration on the bat face. Till the late 90’s, manufacturer’s used to save it only for their sponsored players. But now these top end bats are available for the public in specialist stores.

Properties:

  • The very best unbleached seasoned Grade 1 English Willow.
  • Selected for grain structure and weight.
  • Limited by willow availability.
  • Bats individually tested to ensure 5 Star performances.

Grade 1 Willow:

This is a high quality unbleached English willow. It has straight but slightly broader grain structure than 1+ grade willow. There will be a minimum of 6 grains visible. The looks do not guarantee that it will play in the same manner. It comes with minimal marking or discoloration in the face. Sometimes, there may be some red wood on the edge of the blade. There may be the odd small knot or speck in the edge or back. The playing area of Grade 1 Willow should be clean.

It comes with 2 variants.

Variant 1 Properties:

  • Superior unbleached seasoned Grade 1 English Willow.
  • Straight grained with a hint of color and minor cosmetic blemishes.

Variant 2 Properties:

  • Unbleached seasoned Grade 1 English Willow.
  • Predominantly straight grained with color on one edge and minor blemishes.

Grade 2 Willow:

A Grade 2 Willow blade also makes a very good quality Cricket Bat. This is unbleached English willow with a slight irregular grain patterns. It has at least 6 straight grains on the face of the blade. It normally has a larger amount of red wood on the edge of a blade. But this doesn’t affect the playing ability of the Cricket Bat. It may come with some blemishes, pin knots or speck. Grade 2 Willows also provide some excellent quality butterfly blades.

It comes with 2 variants.

Variant 1 Properties:

  • Superior unbleached seasoned Grade 2 English Willow.
  • Minor blemishes and some color on one edge.

Variant 2 Properties:

  • Seasoned unbleached Grade 2 English Willow.
  • Light blemishes with some color on one edge.

Grade 3 Willow:

This is usually unbleached English Willow with irregular grain pattern. It has minimum 5 grains on the face of the blade. It may not always be perfectly straight. A Grade 3 Blade has up to half color across the blade. It doesn’t affect the playing ability of the Bat. Some small knots or butterfly stain may be present with speck. It might have some marking and discoloration on the blade.

This is a middle grade that’s produced in much higher quantity than the top grades. Sometimes this type of Willow goes through bleaching to cover up more irregular grain and blemishes. It has less visual attraction but offers very good value for money.

It comes with 3 variants.

Variant 1 Properties:

  • Superior Seasoned bleached Grade 3 English Willow.
  • Minor blemishes with some color on one edge.

Variant 2 Properties:

  • Seasoned bleached Grade 3 English Willow.
  • Minor knot marks with some light stain/speck.

Variant 3 Properties:

  • Seasoned bleached Grade 3 English Willow.
  • Knot marks with some stain/speck.

Grade 4 Willow:

This is bleached English willow. It has minimum 4 grains on the face of the blade. A Grade 4 Blade is normally contains over half color or butterfly stain. It still plays as well as the other grades. The Willow containing ‘butterfly’ stain is generally considered very strong. There could also be more speck and other faults. It is often covered up with a protective facing and sold as “non oil”.

Properties:

  • Seasoned Grade 4 English Willow.
  • White polycoat finish.

Kashmir willow:

Kashmir willow is harder and dryer by nature than English willow. As a result, it doesn’t perform as well or last as long. Kashmir willow comes from northern part of India. It’s largely utilized by cricket bat manufacturers as a quality substitute for English Willow. The Kashmir willow is harder in comparison to English willow. But it does not have the same performance effect. Players do not experience the same “sweet spot” when striking the ball like English Willow. Kashmir willow is used for lower range and economical cricket bats. It is rare to see a regular adult player, playing at a reasonable standard to play with a Kashmir willow cricket bat. This bat is ideal as a starter bat for use against a softer safety ball.

I hope you like the post and Willow related information. I know there is a new doubt developing. Somewhere in your mind, you are thinking what makes a Good Bat? I will deal this query in my next post.


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