4 ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVES WHEN BUYING BATTING PADS
While you’re out in the middle, battling away the short ones and the turners, you need to keep your legs protected. Not only do you want to get pads for protection, but they must also be light enough to help you run between the wickets when you’re off to sneak in a cheeky single.
To help you choose the right batting pads, here are our insider’s pro tips:
Batting pads are a nuanced creation that goes beyond surface appearances. The pivotal factor distinguishing them lies in their construction, i.e., the materials and design techniques employed. The SS Superlite is a full high-density foam pad, while the Newbery SPS is a full cane. While these are the two ends of the cane/foam spectrum, many pads combine the best of both (like the MRF Game Changer, an example of a reverse cane with foam on top of the canes).
- High-density foam pads typically offer the best mobility and are incredibly light. Most high-density foam pads, however, would not be suitable if you play serious cricket because the absence of a cane significantly reduces the degree of protection. The one exception is the Morrant range, which uses a proprietary foam and has been used by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar.
- Full cane pads, as the name suggests, are batting pads wherein the primary build material is cane, which offers the highest amounts of protection. Consider pads like the Gray Nicolls Legend for an example of how they do this with the canes sticking out and enhancing the protection with an additional layer of insulation. Most professional cricketers typically prefer this construction because it offers great levels of protection, providing you the assurance that you are completely protected when you walk out to the middle. Thinking tactically, a ball would bounce off cane pads, unlike foam where it would drop down, letting you sneak in a cheeky leg-bye.
- Reverse cane pads are a more modern style that combine the best features of HDF pads (lightness) and cane pads (protection) to give you a pair of pads that are almost as protective as cane pads but much lighter, providing you with great mobility and protection
Almost as important as the construction, padding is another critical component that distinguishes a good pair of pads from a bad pair
The 2 areas where the padding comes in are mentioned below:
- The Knee- The construction around the knee is an important area for protection in the pads. Lower-end pads will have a tiny, thin foam pad across the interior. It provides only a small amount of protection and is not the most comfortable to wrap around your knee. On more premium pads, the padding around the knee conforms to the shape of the knee, allowing it to sit snugly in the padding and not move around. The padding inside the socket softens as you progress up the spectrum, and you'll find a PU hardened knee cup to protect you from the faster deliveries, as well as significant amounts of insulation. The best pads on the market, like a pair of the DSC Player, come with not just a TPU knee cup and soft padding, but also gel padding to give triple-level protection.
- The Shin- While considering the other areas, don't forget about the padding along the shins. The vulnerability of the shin area necessitates substantial protection. Some brands, such as Masuri, Puma, and SF, offer bolstered shin protection with either TPU protection or dense foam at even lower-end pads, whereas New Balance (a brand with no cricket experience) does not offer such protection, even on their top end pads. Premium pads typically use higher-quality foam that combines high-quality protection and comfort with high-density foams that are as soft as pillows.
- Straps/Buckles- Being cumbersome, one would always want their pads to feel the least intrusive when out in the middle. While padding along the buckles may not add to protection, one is more comfortable in their time when batting in the presence of padding along the straps and the buckles. Entry level pads usually have neither, wherein you feel both digging into your skin when out there for a longer time.
- The more premium you go with your pads, the lining on the inside of the straps goes softer, starting from mesh to microfibre to a full-blown towel-lining, to make wearing the pads more pleasurable
- Similarly, when it comes to padding around the buckles, a good pair of pads usually will come with padding underneath the buckles to reduce the impact of the buckles digging in.
- The Outer- The outer surface of batting pads employs synthetic PU or genuine leather. Leather may seem premium but can deteriorate quickly. In contrast, PU material is easily cleaned and more resilient. High-quality modern pads typically feature PU exteriors. Cheaper options might employ PVC, which doesn't fare well in longevity.
- The Inner- An often-overlooked area of the material in use is the inner area at the base of the foot. In increasing quality, it can be mesh, PU, or leather. When purchasing a higher-end set of batting pads, you should ideally look for a better material on the inside so that it does not wither away, exposing all of the construction. Because there is a lot of friction between the pads and the foot base when you run, having a higher-quality material in this area increases the longevity of the pads. Thus, quality materials such as leather not only provide a premium feel but also help to keep the pads' integrity.
Finally, there is the act that no cricketer enjoys: kit maintenance. After each game or net session, wipe the outer surface with a slightly damp cloth, then allow the pads to air-dry in indirect sunlight for about 15-20 minutes. Avoid stacking damp pads, as this promotes odours and mould growth. Direct sunlight can make the padding hard and less effective, so it's best to avoid prolonged exposure. By following these maintenance steps, you ensure that your batting pads remain in top condition for an extended period.
Now armed with these crucial insights, you're ready to embark on acquiring the perfect pair of batting pads for a rewarding season ahead!
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