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Gear This Week: Get A Grip

In Gear This Week, Ed Kemp gets a handle on a variety of batting grips.

Time was when there was only one type of grip you could choose to adorn your bat handle. It didn’t get given much thought. If it wasn’t for the fact that bats would fly out of players’ hands (endangering bowlers, fielders and umpires) players might not have bothered with a rubber grip at all. These days it’s a different story.

Looking around at the vast array of bats that found their way down to AOC HQ for the Gear Test (results of which in next month’s mag, out April 12), something struck me. Stickerless – and thus shorn of their full identity – though they may have been, this was no faceless sea of willow, for their handles were decorated in a dizzying variety of rubbers.

So which is best? And do you care? Well, it’s about the level of grip and comfort a different texture can offer, which is always going to be a personal thing. Some people opt for an extra layer of grip on the lower half of the handle to give additional support for the bottom hand (often these are players with a fairly strong bottom hand) while others would find that intolerable. Meanwhile, there are a number of new styles made by the individual bat manufacturers themselves.

The old traditional herringbone (sometimes called chevron – there is sometimes debate on the official terms for each style) with it’s soft diagonal lines, is still going strong but increasingly common is the ‘octopus’ style: with lots of little raised circles. This offers more grip, as it creates more friction – but there is a chance that your gloves will wear out quicker by using it. Or you can also use a ribbed or ‘spiral’ grip: some bats come with these as standard and though there’s more chance that someone would find this uncomfortable, they work for others.

Within these broad types there is significant variation, too: we’ve got one here that has spiraling with pimples between the lines, and others are different in separate sections of the handle. The likes of Puma and Kookaburra, for example, use a mixture: one of the Pumas here has a ribbed section at the top, then of octopus, then more spiraling, etc.

Most manufacturers make their own these days, so a new bat will come with its own brand of grip, but you can buy spares of different styles from retailers, and there is the odd website, such as CrickGrip, which offers to help you design bespoke colours in various textures and styles.

No doubt there are styles left unmentioned here – there is an almost infinite variety – but I’d be interested to know how others of you decide on a type of grip. When it comes down to it you need to be comfortable holding the bat if you’re going to score runs. And if you didn’t use one at all – and the bat was inadvertently flung at the umpire – you’d probably be given out pretty quickly anyway.

Click here for a coloured pad solution in Gear Last Week.

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