"Ah, the gentle sound of leather on willow..."

Other than the rules (sorry, laws) and the hard (leather-clad) ball, the cricket bat is the main weapon employed in the game of cricket. The bat is formed of two pieces, the largest bit being the blade, made of willow wood, prized for its strength, resilience and elasticity. Into this is fitted the handle, fixed with a splice joint and often laminated with rubber or a polymer to absorb the shock of impact when the ball is struck. It has to be a tough piece of kit, given that a 5-ounce (140 gram) pretty solid cricket ball is going to hit it at up to 90 miles an hour.

The batsman uses his bat for two things - firstly to defend the wicket from the ball (if the bowler can get past the bat and strike the wicket, the batsman is out), and secondly to propel said ball sufficiently far to enable the batsmen to score runs. More than that I cannot say, as many of the laws of cricket elude me still.

The most famous bats were made by Gunn and Moore in their workshops near the Nottingham Canal. Whilst other materials were used, notably aluminium, they never caught on - another triumph of traditional crafts over technology.

The blade is traditionally treated with linseed oil to preserve the wood and prevent cracking, and the olfactory combination of oil and wood is one which can transport many a man back to his schooldays, and start reminiscences of the glare of white linen, the scent of grass, and the thwack of leather on willow.

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