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CricketXI

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Grade Grains Performance
« on: July 09, 2018, 09:08:22 PM »

I am not sure where to post this or this was already been discussed.

Per my understanding the raw clefts are graded based upon the beauty of the gains or the density of the cleft.
Beauty in terms of straightness, equidistance and blemish free clefts.
Density is simple though  p=m/V
I have read/heard many theories about no. of grains vs performance
Different bat makers suggesting different no. of gains for a good performing bats. But lately I have seen many Grade 1 bats with as less as 6 grains very widely spaced in some cases not that straight.
So is there some kind of a change in grading system, I understand the supply and demand  chain:
More demand less product raises the product cost, but when I see bat manufacturers offering a new segment every season labeling them as Grade 1+, pro grade, players , limited edition, reserve edition and so on.. makes me believe either they are not selling the product at the righteous price or they have been cheating customer all these years by selling some thing which was not the top grade wood.
 
I guess there are no such grading as Grade 1+, pro, players or reserved or limited edition bats and these are the same Grade 1 bats or in some bad cases grade 2 or lower grade being passed as top end willow.

When people get the bats directly from the bat maker/ manufacturer they usually end up getting less cleaner looking bat (cleaner in terms of beautiful) as compared to the off the shelf products.
With the pro players started using the heart wood bats which is generally classified as lower grade is now being passed as players grade or grade G1+ at a way higher price then it should be. And I am assuming most of those bat companies are not even making pro bats, when I say companies I am not referring to the original bat makers as them might not even know what these bats will be finally grades as or who they are actually making the bats for.
Now for density for a laymen buyer like most of us (not carrying the sophisticated equipment ) density will directly mean the light weight bats which could be due to artificial/natural drying, low density, willow being actually light with many unknow reasons. So no one can be sure if you are exactly getting what you are paying for.

Now comes the main thing of all Performance :
From all the little bit of knowledge I have, performance-looks does not go hand in hand its like sending a beauty queen in a wrestling competition.
I know some will say that pro bats perform and they are clean as well but guys these are sponsored players they will get the cream, when manufacturers have so much to chose from they surely can reserve the best thing for the sponsored players.
And I have heard people saying that performance is controlled by pressing, a adequately pressed bat should perform regardless to the grade.
In that context, I have read many reputed companies/bat makes/manufacturers claiming that they grade their bats on performance, which I do not know or have an idea of how are they doing it.
As Base ball bats have some BBCOR rating system for the bats performance and I was unable to find if there is any for cricket bats, and I do not think the bat makers have any scientific way of knowing how will the bat perform and tapping a bat 20-30 times (which I am sure is not the case with all the clefts that are being processed for bat making) with a mallet is no surety of performance.
And when you get a less responsive bat (mallet/ball ping test), they are being sold by claiming that they will perform later or after proper knocking in. Which is to me like buying some thing of black market as there is no accountability on the performance and I think there is no manufacturer claiming that they are making less/non performing bats.

There are many points that I can add to this but I would like to know your thoughts regarding the same.

« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 09:15:01 PM by CricketXI »
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LEACHY48

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 09:28:59 PM »

For me this is a fairly simple topic.

Point number 1: 6+ grains blemish free is officially G1 willow according to the industry standard of JS Wrights. Manufacturers have to order X amount of G3/2 in order to receive X amount of G1, of said amount of G1 clefts you may have something along the lines of 2% with 10+ grains blemish free with no heartwood. The rest will have less grains and may have some red wood. If it has been purchased as a G1 cleft the manufacturer would take a huge hit on the margin to then downgrade the bat to a. G2 and would be stupid to do so if it meets the minimum standard as set by Wrights. Manufacturers such as Gray Nics have the luxury of growing their own willow so sell whatever they want as G1 because they havent purchased the willow as a specific grade and therefore are not bound to a specific grade for it.

The G1+/pro/players grade is all marketing BS it may be a low density great looking cleft and therefore a manufacturer may charge a premium due to the rarity of such cleft. But it is still a G1.

Performance grading is a load of crap. Otherwise everyone using a low grade bat wouldnt be able to hit it off the square. Plenty of people on here use low grade willow bats that absolutely fly and arguably perform better than the corresponding G1 bat. For the best grading look at GM. They explain each grade honestly.

Regarding playing a bat into performing; bats always get better as they are knocked in. That is a fact. If a bat is under pressed, knockingnin will harden it up and it will perform. If a cleft is pressed to within an inch of its life, the grains will begin to open up and the handle Ratans loosen and eventually and it will perform if enough time is invested into it. However, with that said. Sometimes an over pressed bat has been killed and wont spring into life. It might just be a toilet bat. Wood is natural and sometimes this happens.
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SD

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 12:22:16 AM »

Certainly when I look back to bats I still have in the garage that I used in the 90s, today's grading is much more generous.  In order the meet the demand for G1 bats whilst demand for willow going up all the time, bats that would previous have been sold as G2 are being labelled up as G1.  I don't find willow grading particularly honest, but when there is an effective monopoly over its supply with one company having such a significant proportion of the market I guess this shouldn't come as a surprise.

In terms of performance, without objective testing, it is difficult to say whether aesthetic grading has any impact on playing quality (I have used some lower grade bats that have performed better than higher grade bats I have owend).  Obviously those best placed to research this are bat manufacturers but then they have little to gain from releasing any testing which could show that grading has no impact on performance and therefore erode the premium that can be charged for the most aesthetic pieces of willow.   
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prim0pyr0

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 01:13:53 AM »

Most low density clefts will have 6-7 grains. Possibly density doesnt matter as much to pros now with the bat regs on size
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CricketXI

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 04:28:58 AM »

[In terms of performance, without objective testing, it is difficult to say whether aesthetic grading has any impact on playing quality (I have used some lower grade bats that have performed better than higher grade bats I have owend).  Obviously those best placed to research this are bat manufacturers but then they have little to gain from releasing any testing which could show that grading has no impact on performance and therefore erode the premium that can be charged for the most aesthetic pieces of willow.]

As I mentioned in my above post "performance should be quantitive property for a cricket bat", same as that of baseball bat, if performance can be measured for a base ball bat made out of Ash or maple wood so the same thing can be done for English willow and if there is only few major supplier it becomes more imperative.

[Most low density clefts will have 6-7 grains. Possibly density dosen't matter as much to pros now with the bat regs on size]

I am not sure how true is this -"Most low density clefts will have 6-7 grains."I am not questioning your knowledge but its my lack of knowledge about the co-relation between the density and number of grains and as i mentioned in my earlier post -highly dried out bats can be sold as low density clefts as for pros I guess they are less concerned about the density than balance and feel.
Balance is a very subjective thing as it mostly depends upon players wrist and forearm strength and the angle of the down swing of the bat and a lots of other minor factors like how and from where one hold a bats etc, a good balanced bat for  one could be totally out of balance for other.


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Ajdal

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 06:25:25 AM »

Where art thou @InternalTraining  :D
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Seniorplayer

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2018, 07:53:07 AM »

Clefts are firstly graded on looks they are sold  in there raw state to batmakers on looks  in batches  of grade ratios batmakers then regrade and regrade again  depending on the finished product.
But as already stated grades change based on supply availability.
The best of the best clefts  that make the top  bats are natural low density
As for density and grains  generally the older the tree the greater the number of grains and the lesser the density
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 08:12:38 AM by Seniorplayer »
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JK Lewis

Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2018, 08:25:57 AM »

Willow suppliers can only grade clefts on how they look, as the 'performance' of raw unpressed wood is not really testable. Companies such as Kippax are in the best position as they grow and process their own trees and can judge the wood at both cleft and bat stage.

Wider grains are more common now, and will continue to be, as willow sets are planted in areas of maximum growth rates to encourage them to mature as quickly as possible. For willow growers and suppliers, maturity in 12 to 15 years is obviously preferable to maturity in 15 to 20 years. Most slower growing trees (therefore with more grains, spaced more narrowly) have been felled and of course take longer to replace. Hence the reason willow suppliers are keen to promote the 'benefits' of wide grain clefts.

A good bat, made with care by an experienced batmaker will likely perform well, regardless of the grade of the cleft. For me, shot value is the only worthwhile measure of bat quality. Ain't no reference to willow grade in the scorebook.
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WalkingWicket37

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2018, 08:26:08 AM »

@LEACHY48 while JS Wright's do give guidance on grading, there is no "industry standard"

A brand could sell a 2 grain bat covered in knots and stains as "grade 1", "pro grade" or and other name they like if they wished.

http://www.cricketbatwillow.com/blades-grading/
Quote
A GRADE 1 BLADE
A Grade 1 is the best looking blade, though it will not necessarily play the best. There may be some red wood evident on the edge of the blade.  The grain on the face will be straight and there will be a minimum of 6 grains visible.  There may be the odd small knot or speck in the edge or back but the playing area should be clean.

A GRADE 2 BLADE
A Grade 2 blade is also very good quality and normally a larger amount of red wood can be seen on the edge of a blade, this has no effect on the playing ability of the bat it is purely cosmetic. Again there will be at least 6 straight grains on the face of the blade with maybe some blemishes, pin knots or speck visible, we also put the top 2% of the excellent quality butterfly blades that we get into Grade 2.

A GRADE 3 BLADE
 
This is  a middle grade that is produced in much higher numbers than the top grades and it offers very good value for money. A Grade 3 Blade has up to half colour across the blade which again has no direct relation to the playing ability of the wood, it just has less visual attraction. There will be a minimum of 5 grains on the face of the blade which may not always be perfectly straight. Again some small knots or butterfly stain may be present with sometimes more prominent speck.

A GRADE 4 BLADE
A Grade 4 Blade is normally over half colour or contains butterfly stain (see our page on Imperfections in Willow). It will still play as well as the other grades. Any number of grains are possible with often only 4 grains, the willow containing butterfly stain is very strong, there could also be more speck and other faults.


OTHER GRADES AND WHAT MAKES A GOOD BAT?
We have many other Grades which have been developed over the years to satisfy the different demands from all the different markets across the world.

Q: What makes a good bat?  The answer is that it depends on the taste of the customer and the skill of the bat maker. A bat should always be chosen on feel and not merely what it looks like. There are bound to be some small knots or blemishes on the bat, after all it is a natural product and cannot be expected to be perfect, with no faults at all.

The only main differences in the grade are the visual appearance of the wood including amounts of butterfly stain plus the number of blemishes or knots on the blade and the straightness of the grain. Generally the more colour in the blade the lower the grade, there is however negligible difference in the playing ability, it is purely a perception that if it looks good it will play well, this is not the case.
Butterfly stain (the stain resembles the shape of a butterfly), for example, used to be very popular for its superior strength and playing ability. Unfortunately, these days because it does not look clean and white people do not buy it. It does make very good bats that are very strong and perform well.

THE WIDE GRAIN MYTH
Generally we would expect a blade to have wide grain if it has less than 6 grains on the face. The width of the grain is entirely dependent upon how fast the tree has grown, each grain represents one years growth. The factors that affect the rate of growth are the soil quality and amount of water available.

In these modern times when growers want a quick return on their investment, trees have been planted in the most ideal site for the tree to grow quickly. This means that in the future there are going to be less narrow grain trees available.  Unfortunately when it takes all this time to grow a tree you cannot allow for changes in fashion which could alter from year to year.

In this respect we have cut mature trees in as little as 10 years, but generally 12 to 18 years gives a wider grain with 25 years or more a narrower grain. A narrow grain bat will certainly play well, quicker, but will not have a particularly long life.

On the other hand a wider grain bat (with as little as 4 grains on the face) will play as well, given time, as a narrow grain, it will also , without doubt have a longer life span. The reason for this is that the wood is not as old, so it is stronger and will stand up better to the beating with some of the very hard balls used in matches.

We are finding with the climate changing and growing seasons getting longer, that the amount of narrow grain we are producing is getting less as a percentage.  There is nothing we can do about it and players will have to adapt in the coming years to accepting more wider grains.
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JK Lewis

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2018, 09:13:43 AM »

Regarding density, I think that much of this is to do with drying, but I also think it is possible to theorize that density will be higher as one gets closer to the centre of the tree. Older wood may well be compressed and compacted by new growth building up around it. So, it would follow that narrower grained clefts might be higher density than wider grain, because narrow grained trees have been growing for longer and the outer half of the cleft has compressed the inner. It is important to remember that although we see grains on a cleft as straight lines, they are in fact sections of circles. So, the 6 years of growth on a 5 grain bat are the same 6 years as the outer half of a 10 grain bat.
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GarrettJ

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2018, 09:19:56 AM »

best bat i ever had was a 9 grain wobbly thing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/67335654@N02/6130462885/in/photostream/
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Buzz

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2018, 09:33:25 AM »

Ditto for me John.

But then how do you grade something like this...



Much better to let supply and demand work it out.
A bat seller (maker or retailer or ebay frankly) has to work out a price they think the bat will sell at. They will use branding to make it look prettier, but in all reality when you buy a bat either you are happy with it and will pay or you wont.

Whether it is a g1 or velum is mostly ego...

But those pro bats are magnificent 😂😂
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Seniorplayer

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2018, 10:55:20 AM »

Magnificent they  certainly are skimmed off by the big brands for their pros the lightest of the light and best performing willow but you won't see any available in the shops and it's becoming more difficult to get one from the smaller bat maker I've tried.
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edge

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2018, 11:23:13 AM »

Grading's daft, and here's an illustration of how: from the left, the first three bats/clefts are all the same grade (butterfly). The last three are sold as (not in order) grades 1, 3 and 4. Waste of time trying to gain much insight from that information, isn't it!

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LEACHY48

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Re: Grade Grains Performance
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2018, 12:28:03 PM »

@LEACHY48 while JS Wright's do give guidance on grading, there is no "industry standard"

A brand could sell a 2 grain bat covered in knots and stains as "grade 1", "pro grade" or and other name they like if they wished.

http://www.cricketbatwillow.com/blades-grading/


yeah true, what I meant was that if a brand purchases a number of clefts that Wrights consider to be G1 they would be silly to then downgrade it as long as it meets the guidance that Wrights supply. Industry standard was the wrong phrase.
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