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Author Topic: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?  (Read 8380 times)

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bigcatcricket

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Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« on: January 22, 2015, 07:00:51 AM »

Have been reading the forums for many years now. Thought I will contribute. I am starting with a long thread so excuse me. I have always wondered about the explanation for following statements that people often make about willow:

#1: More/tighter the grains better the ping
#2: More/tighter the grains lesser the life
#3: Bat with more number grains or tighter grains opens quicker than one with lesser number of grains
#4: Knocking-in opens up the bat

So I did some research and here is the gist. Please let me know if it makes any sense. Still some questions need answers:

The cross section of a willow bat/cleft/tree reveals a series of parallel straws (http://www.psmicrographs.co.uk/corkscrew-willow-xylem--sem-/science-image/80201781). This seems to be unique in willow among other tree's. The moisture content can escape very quickly due to these open ends when cut hence the need to wax/varnish the ends as the cleft is cut. At the same time, if left on a wet surface moisture can rise up into the toe and beyond rapidly through capillary action. This explains why the toe swells up sometimes. In pressing one aims to harden a thin layer of the face by compression and this in essence flattens the straws and allows them to flex into the soft middle which upon return to shape gives the rebound. More the natural moisture trapped in the straws, more the surface will rebound. Low density willow means that the straws are wider in diameter tapping more moisture.

Now about grains (copied from http://workshopcompanion.com/KnowHow/Design/Nature_of_Wood/1_Wood_Grain/1_Wood_Grain.htm): At the very center is the pith. In some trees, this is much softer and possibly a different color than the surrounding heartwood. Heartwood is made up of dead cells that no longer serve any purpose except to support the tree. Next is the sapwood, which carries water, minerals, and plant sugars between the roots and the leaves. This is often lighter in color than the heartwood. Outside the sapwood, close to the surface, is the cambium, a thin layer of living cells. These cells manufacture the wood as they grow. The cambium is covered by a protective layer of bark. The cambium grows rapidly at the beginning of each growing season, creating light colored springwood. As the climate warms, it slows down and produces darker summerwood. This later growth is somewhat denser and harder than the early springwood. As the weather turns cold, the cambium becomes dormant until the next spring. This cycle produces distinctive growth rings.

The darker color of the grain, which is also the harder part, runs perpendicular to the face of the bat. I would imagine that tighter grains would result in a overall harder surface that will be harder to flex inwards. So how does having tighter grains result in a more "pingy" bat? Some say that the harder surface has a better transfer of energy to the ball and lesser vibrations. So by that standard, we should press our bats more. I am not quite sure how the life of the bat is related. Some say that tighter grain bat is older wood, which makes sense. But I am not sure why older wood would break easier if it harder. Does it make the bat more brittle?

The process of knocking knits the surface fibers together forming the thin layer at the top. This layer flexes and rebounds upon impact and the inner straws go through temporary compression and decompression. I believe knocking helps in making the inner straw like structures loosen so they can compress easier and then decompress back to their original shape hence providing better rebound.

Not sure if all this makes sense. It would be good to get some discussion going.
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leatherseat

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 08:54:16 AM »

What a facinating post-lots of food for thought (and discussion).

I am sure others, far more knowledgeable will be along shortly.

One thought I have, relates to '... I would imagine that tighter grains would result in a overall harder surface that will be harder to flex inwards. So how does having tighter grains result in a more "pingy" bat?...',   is that the tighter grain bat will therefore need less pressing to produce the optimum 'ping', than clefts with fewer grains. This reflects bat-makers saying that different amounts of pressing are required for different clefts.

Thanks for posting,
David
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Seniorplayer

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2015, 09:54:27 AM »

The  more grains on a cleft the older the willow the older the willow the less the lifespan of the bat  due to the willow having less moisture but a lot depends on the quality of the pressing.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 12:29:02 PM by Seniorplayer »
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Gurujames

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2015, 10:29:42 AM »

The tighter the grain the slower the tree has grown. this is often an indication of the climate. Tighter grains are often found towards the centre of the tree where the timber is more dense. However, periods of cold weather can result in a tighter grain structure.
As timber is seasoned the grains want to straighten, this causes timber to warp.
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Over Gully

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2015, 10:38:45 AM »

Would be keen to hear from what the batmakers on the forum have to say. I was always told the more grains the better, but then Julian Millichamp has always held the belief that 7-9 grains produce the best bats, but also a more long lasting bat. For the pros durability and longevity isn't so much of a concern, for us weekend warriors that have to pay for our equipment it might be a more pertinent point...
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kenbriooo

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 05:53:27 PM »

I'm not sure I buy this bat durability / longevity thing on the whole. If a Pro bat was to be replaced every 3000 balls that equates to 500 overs (this is a random figure that happy to be advised elsewise). Personally I'm lucky to face 500 balls in league cricket. Add onto friendlies and nets that figure would potentially be nearer 1250 per year.  I also face bowlers far slower than those a pro bat would face my bat should sustain less damage and wear potentially increasing its longevity in comparison.

Therefore it could be argued that a 'pro bat' could last 2/3 season for your average club cricketer, when most would be thinking about a change. Plus given the average span of bat ownership on these pages is probably about 2 seasons longer than they're kept for!

Just some musings
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CrickFreak

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 06:30:15 PM »

I'm not sure I buy this bat durability / longevity thing on the whole. If a Pro bat was to be replaced every 3000 balls that equates to 500 overs (this is a random figure that happy to be advised elsewise). Personally I'm lucky to face 500 balls in league cricket. Add onto friendlies and nets that figure would potentially be nearer 1250 per year.  I also face bowlers far slower than those a pro bat would face my bat should sustain less damage and wear potentially increasing its longevity in comparison.

Therefore it could be argued that a 'pro bat' could last 2/3 season for your average club cricketer, when most would be thinking about a change. Plus given the average span of bat ownership on these pages is probably about 2 seasons longer than they're kept for!

Just some musings

Your analysis on how much cricket an amateur plays compared to a pro and related standards like pace etc is right on the mark. But one important aspect you are forgetting is the quality of the cricket balls. The balls we use are half as good and much harder which can break the bat easily. So a pro quality bat may not last 2/3 seasons...
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kenbriooo

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 06:51:42 PM »

True, but is there that much difference between decent league balls and county or test balls? And could it be argued a county ball being bowled at 80mph would do more damage than a league ball bowled at 60?

If there 2 identically weighted, sized and 'pinging' bats I suspect most would pick the bat with 15+ straight grains rather than 7 straight grains. Much more likely to get 7-10grain bats though due to nature of felling willow at the earliest opportunity.
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CrickFreak

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2015, 08:08:53 PM »

True, but is there that much difference between decent league balls and county or test balls? And could it be argued a county ball being bowled at 80mph would do more damage than a league ball bowled at 60?

If there 2 identically weighted, sized and 'pinging' bats I suspect most would pick the bat with 15+ straight grains rather than 7 straight grains. Much more likely to get 7-10grain bats though due to nature of felling willow at the earliest opportunity.

Its not just the speed, its also about how consistently pros middle the ball and average club cricketer does. I have used the most expensive Kooka ball available and felt lot different from the one we use in our league. Even the sound it makes is different when it hits the bat, dont feel the vibrations at all unless its is completely off.
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RPC/Blueroom Cricket - Adie

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2015, 08:12:25 PM »

Of course, clubs could use higher quality balls... Trouble is, no one wants to pay the extra for them.. Oh and sponsors aren't going to give you a decent quality ball.. They go for the adequate cheap option for them

Personally, I think clubs should be free to use whatever they want.. So if you want a kook that will die in 5 overs great.. If your players want to spend the extra 2 per match fee to use a test quality duke.. Then they should
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alee

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2015, 02:18:46 AM »

Some folks at my club say that the older wood (more grains) bat lasts longer, saying something that fewer grain bat is younger wood and more prone to breakage.

Regarding Cricket Balls, We (Vancouver, Canada) use Kookaburra's from Australia and tried Duke ones which didn't work out. The Duke balls were more bouncy. a difference in one being hand stitched and the other machine stitched.

Also i agree practise balls are just garbage, The SG ones, one has to hold shotmaking when facing such rock hard balls. One guy bowled a high full toss and i just blocked it, then i saw it left a dent close to the shoulder of my bat.
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tushar sehgal

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2015, 02:44:39 AM »

@alee what kind of kooka are you using mate....would love to try dukes some day...nice see someone from the west coast on the forum :) I am on the east side..halifax. ..do you know Vimal hardat? 
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alee

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2015, 03:36:15 AM »

Hi Tushar,

Yes, I know Vimal but only as a player. He plays for Abbotsford Cricket Club with Jimmy Hansra.

I play at a higher division that uses a white Kookaburra (colour clothing), not sure what model though, will check it out, But i know that the other divisions use a Red Kookaburra Senator cricket ball.

Is there a proper cricket league in Halifax?

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bigcatcricket

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2015, 05:12:58 AM »

The tighter grain bat will therefore need less pressing to produce the optimum 'ping', than clefts with fewer grains. This reflects bat-makers saying that different amounts of pressing are required for different clefts.

Totally agree that different clefts will require individual attention for pressing. However, still not convinced why tighter grain bats should play better. What is the main contributing factor? Is it the stiffness due to tighter grain transferring more energy to the ball?

As some of you have indicated, tighter grain bats generally come from older trees. Older willow should be drier, denser, and harder. Hence the argument of longevity. Some of you have pointed out that the heartwood is more likely to have tighter grains but is denser than sapwood. No wonder we are seeing more color in tighter grain bats these days. I believe more the moisture in the willow, better the ping as more moisture in the stem structures will give better rebound. Hoping that some batmakers/experts can chime in.

Certainly professional grade willow (used to make bats for internationals) is just not graded based on looks alone. It probably is a combination of low density cleft (giving it wider stems), high moisture content (giving great rebound), and tighter grains (good energy transfer). Most internationals use single color bats coming from the softer part of the tree. Hence making it a rare combination. The rest of us get the remaining permutations and combinations and one has to be lucky to get all of them together.

Would love to see more views on this.
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Seniorplayer

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Re: Willow ping and grains: does this make sense?
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2015, 11:01:02 AM »

Narrower grain is older and much more susceptible to breaking and splitting simply because it as aged a lot more.
Heartwood does not generally last as long as sapwood as it is much harder and is lacking in sap this is what makes the willow brittle.
Also
It is taken from the centre of the tree where the wood is older and harder
To summarise :  What makes a great bat
1 Quality of the willow
2 Quality of the handle
3Quality of the pressing
4 weight distribution to correct areas for feel and performance.
5 Shaping must be done correctly.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2015, 01:53:17 PM by Seniorplayer »
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