This was posted last year on another site. I thought I might reincarnate it quite simply because the cricket season in Australia, at the club level anyway, is just a few weekends away. Like everyone else sick of winter, I cannot wait to pull on the whites!
After three years’ moderate use, my bat’s blond-white newness was a blotchy, well-marked red, grey and brown.
The last batsman I remember playing with an evidently old bat, twine fast around the dents and well reddened outside edge, was David Boon. Everyone thereafter took leg and middle with unblemished implements. Thus the pressure cascaded down, even at club level, to flourish a gleaming Woodworm Torch.
There are those at my club, without much by way of mining stocks or mutual funds, who will yet commence each season with a new piece of expensive kit. Much as I persisted with my increasingly dog-eared old trusty, there came the point when a make-over was called for; at the very least to keep up with the Jonesy-s.
True to procrastinatory form, four weeks away from the first game of the new season, I finally got around to this pleasant activity on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
A bat such as this carries the impress of various strokes, indentations and well-rounded toes. Many were the times I stopped to admire one of several stains. This beauty, in the middle of the sweet spot-was it that unforgettable tippy-toes drive through mid off early in the game against Sydenham-Hillside?
Sanding a bat takes patience. Despite what the sander advertisements would have you believe, the dust does not fan out in graceful arcs leaving behind pristine surfaces after one pass. The red lacquer from the ball gets ingrained and needs spot sanding. It boils up and loads the sandpaper. Eventually though, all blemishes disappear, and under progressively finer grades of paper, the willow emerges-whitish and smooth.
The first rub of bat oil darkens the surface bringing forth the lovely broad grain’s detail. One begins to appreciate why paeans are written to fine timbers like Huon Pine and Rosewood. A couple of light coats before returning the following weekend.
A light, fine sand precedes two more coats of oil. A new white chevron grip, toe-guard, extratec and there, we have a rejuvenated bat!
After all this attention, it seems almost criminal to bash a cricket ball with this luminosity.
But, it carries promise anew, of the music when a hard new six-stitcher meets its middle, before the ball’s flight, hopefully over the fence.
And, perhaps, more runs than before?