Cricket requires a few bits of specialist equipment to keep you safe, as you'll know that a hard cricket ball can do a lot of damage.
When batting, you'll need leg pads to protect shins. Make sure that they fit comfortably so you can move quickly to get those single runs in. The horizontal panels on the front of the pad should be at knee height, with the top of the pad covering up the lower thigh. Most pads have three velcro straps to fasten them to your leg, making them easy to adjust. Modern pads are incredibly light - but are still able to provide plenty of protection.
Broken fingers are one of the most common injuries cricketers pick up so protective gloves are important when batting. Another important piece of equipment is an abdo guard.
The England and Wales Cricket Board advises that all players up to the age of 18 should wear a helmet during match play and practice. Even if you're not batting against fast bowlers, a helmet will protect you against an accidental full toss or a top-edged sweep.
Care of your bat
Once you have your new bat you'll need to prepare it for play. All bats need to be knocked in. This will harden the bat's surface, protecting it from cracking and increasing its life. It will also improve the performance of your bat.
First of all, apply 2 coats of linseed oil which should be gently rubbed in with a soft cloth into all areas, except the v-shaped splice section and the areas where stickers have been applied to the bat
After 24 hours apply a second coat of oil in the same way; this ensures that the wood becomes supple so that it dents rather than cracks when you start the knocking-in process
Next, you'll need to obtain a wooden bat mallet. Using this and starting with the blade of the bat, gently tap the centre of the face, gradually increasing the force used. If you start to see dents appearing you should lightly oil the bat again, or strike it with less force.
Repeat this on the edges of the bat until they show a rounded, compact appearance.
This process is tedious and will probably take you at least 4 - 6 hours, but it will be worth it.
Before using the bat in a match, use it against an old, softer cricket ball in the nets and then switch for a new match-standard ball.
When you first use your new bat in a match, you'll need to be careful and check it carefully after the first few strikes for minor damage. Attend to this as it occurs with wood glue or bat repair tape. Some cracking will appear during the life of the bat but this won't adversely affect the performance.
During the life of your bat it should be kept dry and away from direct sources of heat. Once a year rub down your bat with very fine sandpaper and use linseed oil to make sure the willow remains supple. This will extending its life and minimise the possibility of cracks appearing.