What kit do you need to play cricket? A guide for beginners.
You can literally have a fun game of cricket anywhere – in the garden, the park, the beach, the street – even in a sports hall. It doesn’t always have to be a formal game with a hard ball and pads.
So if you’re just looking to play a friendly game of cricket with a soft ball, all you need is some comfy, loose fitting clothes and trainers, plus (obviously) a bat and a ball (such as a tennis ball).
To play hard ball for a cricket team, you’ll need a bit more gear to keep you safe, so read on for an easy checklist of the kit you’ll need:
The Essentials – what you MUST have
Some clubs provide bats, and you can certainly borrow an old one from somebody, but there’s nothing like feeling your own, perfectly sized bat in your hands – especially the first time you connect with the ball!
Fingers are delicate, and the ball is hard. So trust us, you’ll want some serious padding around them. Good batting gloves offer plenty of protection, but also allow ventilation (your hands will get sweaty) and easy movement. The more expensive ones will offer greater protection on the second and third fingers of the hand you’ll use to grip the bottom of the bat handle (this is how you tell the difference between right handed and left handed batting gloves).
They should be the lightest – but most protective ones you can afford. There are generally two types – cane-cored pads covered in low density foam, or pure, high-density foam pads. If you want lightness (to make it easier to run) go for the foam sort, whereas those who want extra protection (particularly if they’re keeping wicket) will pick the cane type.
Getting the right fit
When you place the notch at the bottom of the pad over your shoe and buckle the strap round the top of your calf, the knee roll should be touching your knee and should allow it to bend easily.
Your trusty trainers aren’t really up to the job here. You need a pair of proper cricket shoes that give you protection, support and decent grip for explosive acceleration. It’s a personal choice whether to go for moulded soles or spikes, but you should consider how soft the ground is where you’re going to play.
Make sure you have a couple of pairs of moisture-wicking white socks with a bit of support.
Regulations say anyone under 18 MUST now wear a helmet, but we’d suggest everyone does anyway. We’d rather not see anyone get hurt if it can be avoided. The most important things to consider (after safety, which should be a given) are vision, and size. Try it on. Can you see well, even at the sides? And does it keep still when you shake your head, without feeling too tight? Make sure you talk to the staff in the cricket department of the shop before buying your helmet, as it’s important not to get this wrong.
Box (abdomen protector)
As you may have guessed, ‘abdomen’ is just the manufacturers’ polite way of referring to your crown jewels. You don’t even want to think about the consequences of not wearing one. Enough said.
You can’t just tuck the box into your trousers. A jockstrap is designed to hold it in the precise place it needs to be to protect you. Some people also wear the “tighty whitey” types of underpants (or “Jockshorts”) – either is fine; wear whatever you’re most comfortable in, but please wear something.
Guards for your hip and outer thigh (the one facing the bowler, depending on whether you’re left or right handed) and the inner thigh of your other leg are equally important. Some manufacturers make a combined model of these.
You need one with a peak to keep that occasional ray of summer sun out of your eyes. You could wear any cap, but why be the butt of changing room jokes? You don’t need a new nickname in your first season…
If you’re going to turn up at a club, you’re going to need a full set of “whites” – a white shirt and trousers made of stretchy, comfy material, batting shorts and white socks. You’ll also need a cricket sweater for those chilly spring days standing in the field, but check with your club about this before buying one, as they may want to sell you one with the club badge on it.
A cricket hoody and trousers are useful, as are shorts, trainers and training socks
You’re going to need a nice big bag to haul all this gear around – one that you can fit your bat, pads, helmet and possibly some stumps in. Not to mention a towel and maybe a change of clothes. You can buy them in all shapes and sizes, including rucksacks, holdalls and wheelie bags – but take our advice when you’re starting out: Buy bigger than you need; you’ll soon fill it.
Specialist cricket boots.
Some cricketers wear specific boots designed for the batsman, fast bowler or all rounder. If you already know how you want to specialise, this is great. Otherwise, just buy a general pair.
Not for you – for your bat! A little plastic cap that fits over the end of your bat to stop it splitting or chipping on hard pitches.
Your bat will need to be “knocked in” for at least 6 hours before you use it. Many people just use an old ball in a sock, but this hard work. Far better to get a specialist knocking-in mallet.
Optional body protection
Chest guards, arm guards, even mouthguards (especially if you’re keeping wicket) are ll things you might consider when you’re facing fast bowlers.
Cricket base layers can wick sweat away from your body on warm days and keep your body heat in on cooler days.