The thing I was most looking forward to on returning to the game was the bats. The new ones. With the big edges and stuff. As I have mentioned before I have played golf almost as long as cricket and so just about remember playing with persimmon woods and (cheap) blades . In that respect I can say that, however much they may exaggerate year by year, in general the claims of the equipment manufacturers that modern gear has changed the game for ordinary punters are fair. Yes I know there is constant hand wringing about why handicaps haven't fallen, and I know you drive for dough etc. but really... When I started almost no-half decent club golfer used a driver. Oh yes the fully decent,good ones did. And the rubbish ones did too. But the middling masses used their 3 woods or 3 irons to tee off all the time- as the golf magazines constantly told us to. Today 3 woods are the hardest clubs to hit , drivers are the easiest clubs not to make a fool of yourself with and proper 3 irons went out of mainstream golf with casual racism. Let any one who doubts that things have changed for the better for the masses hit a bucket of balls with one of my old Wilson Augusta bladed 6 irons and one with my new Callaways with the massive backside.
So I thought cricket would be like this. I was always reading and being told that, in the context of the professional game and T20 in particular., it was a new era. Cricket even had a smaller scale version if the gear junkie culture golf has. I mentioned in a previous post the amount of time I spent watching you tube videos of the stylists of a few years back. I have spent almost as much time watching ItsJust Cricket and World Cricket Store bat reviews.
In truth though, when I started playing , and lurked around the custom bat/ gear forums, after a while I realised that the bats good players used weren't actually that different from the ones I remembered- or at least were a lot closer to them than the new , super high spine/big edged ones I thought I would see everywhere. Most people even in our firsts had something that looked recognisably like a cricket bat and not a weapon of mass destruction, and by the time you got to the 2nds most of the better players had the same bats that they had been using when I was last playing with or against them. 15 years ago.
The other thing I learned was that most of the big edges etc came from taking wood out from elsewhere ( i.e. fromthe middle) and that confirmed me into a comforting Luddite funk. I played half the season with the bat my dad had got me as a reward for getting into Oxford and the rest with the new bat I said I would treat myself to when I started again. Which takes us on to:
Bats what I have owned....
1 Sondico Viking- ages about 10-12. Ball didn't get off the square-but not sure how much that had to do with the bat. Actually to be fair it was rubbish.
2 Gn500 12-13. Lush bat bought because my opening partner had one. Outgrown. A lost love.
3 Duncan Fearnley VR 5 Star LH- ages 14-18. Because what you really need when you are a thin as a rake,weedy teenager who barely plays a single attacking shot beyond the dab down to 3rd man for one, with a reputation a round the county/club age group scene for Tavaresque scoring speeds , is a heavy weight,long handled monster of a bat branded after the player whose game you least resemble. And which you pick up really high and early before the bowler starts his run ...
4 Gn Megapower- 18 to now. Always hankered after the scoops (despite what I said about taking wood away from the middle above) . Loved this even though in truth it was always a bit too heavy for me . Used it, kept it and my wife got it refurbished for me as a birthday treat after 15 years in the garage. Looks lush, anything off the bottom half of the middle flies. Used it for a few games, scored a few with it it even if it is older than most of the team. A great driver's bat....just needs a great driver to do it justice.
5 Newbery Mjolnir- my new toy. Smaller edges than my 8 year old's size 2. No toe guard or scuff sheet. Nothing in the bottom of the bat at all but (a) light as a feather pick up means I can cut all day long (b) nice stickers and (c) the best handle I have ever held for any implement of many kind in my life. Really oval, not too small like most Newbery handles ( I like 1 skinny grip) but just perfect .