Equipment > Custom Made

Oxfordshire Cricket Bats - custom Pro Grade

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Alright then, I've teased this is the isolation purchases and best grains topics but I think this deserves its own thread.

We've all seen the regular posts on @Northern monkey bat making, and they were enough to convince me I had to try one for myself.

I first met Mark at a Southern net around 5 years ago and he's an absolutely top bloke. On that day he kindly let me have a hit with his Affinity Toro (which had gone in for the AOC gear test). I loved that bat but my attempt to sneak off with it failed.

As I couldn't have the original I asked Mark to make a copy of it for me. I wasn't fussed about looks, I asked for him to pick the cleft he had that best suited the shape we were going for. I ended up with a Pro Grade that was one of the best pingers as well as lookers.

And now time for my "in depth" review. Please note I've only had this bat a couple of days and given it a light coat of oil. It still needs to be knocked in.

With 13 grains running straight down the face and (mostly) straight through the toe this definitely qualifies as top grade willow.

There are no blemishes and just a hint of colour towards the shoulder of the inside edge. The orange stickers really are lovely, the brightness makes them pop and there is some lovely texturing and embossing. In short, it's beautiful!

Being based on an Affinity Toro this bat is short handle size overall, but is in the popular short blade long handle configuration. The shoulders have been dropped about 30mm, so you probably wouldn't notice the difference if you weren't told.

To keep the orange theme going, here it is next to a "standard" short handle:

This is what I'd call a mid-low middle. The pickup is very light in the backswing, but you can feel where the meat is while you play a shot (does that make any sense?)

The spine runs into the toe meaning the willow is distributed evenly throughout the blade, and there is virtually no concaving which leaves plenty of wood in the hitting area.

Mark has actually built his own press to make sure any bat he makes is up the his standards. To say I'm impressed by his pressing would be an understatement!

As I mentioned earlier this bat hasn't been knocked in yet. I have tried to judge the performance but can only do so by tapping up an old ball and using a mallet.

The bottom 40mm (about 1 and a half inches) of the toe are dead as you'd expect on any bat. The rebound does start to improve from there tough and it still responds well up to the stickers.

From tapping up and old ball and using a mallet I have judged the "sweet spot" to run roughly 95mm from the toe to 245mm from the toe. The best rebound is around 130mm to 150mm from the toe, so I guess that's the middle (a part of the bat I never usually find!)

There were no seam marks when tapping up the old ball, so I guess you'd call this a "firm press". The sound when tapping up the old ball is lovely and the ping seems very good with no prep. The middle is long and this will only improve with preparation. Basically I think this bat is going to be a gun!

And finally, for those of you who like measurements.

This bat weights exactly 2lb11 as it is (1 grip and no scuff sheet).

The handle is fairly thick, being a lovely oval shape at the bottom and round at the top.

Edge at shoulder: 16mm
Edge at peak: 32mm
Edge at toe: 22mm
Middle of the toe: 32mm
Spine height: 68mm

There is a tiny amount of concaving, probably less than 1mm. I didn't notice this until I put a ruler from the spine to the edge to see if there was any!

While the edges wouldn't fill a bat guage, the lack of concaving and high spine means this looks big when you look down the back of the bat, and there's certainly plenty of wood behind the ball.

The verdict
Overall I'm over the moon with this bat. Mark's craftsmanship is simply superb. I have a top quality piece of willow, made into a beautiful shape with a superb pickup, and the finishing is simply superb.

The timescale to get this made really impressed me too. From my initial text to Mark to completion it took 4 days. Considering Mark makes bats as a hobby this is a highly impressive turnaround.

I cannot recommend Oxfordshire Cricket Bats highly enough.

Northern monkey:
Cheers for that Cam,,, over the moon you like it

Absolute beauty, the toro shape is awesome

Top bat! Enjoy it's beauty 😃

six and out:
Lovely lovely bat you have their Cam.

You don't mention the toe, but it looks a touch different to me (could just be the photo), sort of square but not quite.


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