The Gray Nicolls F18 series is listed as a new bat for 2015 but has
been around for a few months especially in Australia. It is designated
as the shot makers bat and is perhaps a bat for the back foot player
on fast hard pitches. But the makers claim that due to its large sweet
spot and great pickup it is suitable for front foot players as well.
The F18 does not have the concave or scooped back which is
characteristic of many of their bats but boasts a mid to high sweet
spot and contoured shoulders and toe. There is not a lot of willow
towards the toe and it does seem to be quite thin as bats go, about
15 mm. The edges are big with lots of wood around the sweet spot.
Because of the contouring the bat picks up well and is in fact light
for its apparent size. This is probably due to the shoulders and toe
The range consists of Custom Made and Test Bat made from the top
quality English willow. You would expect to find at least 10 grains,
straight and without any blemishes at this level but it comes at a
cost. The demand for English willow is growing all the time and top
quality wood is getting hard to find even for bat makers with their
own sources. This is reflected in the prices with the Test Bat coming
in around $600.
Lower down the range you can find the LE, 5 Star and Force Plus and Junior bats.
The handle is oval with the GN Zone Pro grip.
The general idea of creating bats for front foot or back foot players
may be just a makers way of increasing trade. Sure for big powerful
guys a heavy piece of willow may be ideal whereas for the guy who likes
to time or deflect a lighter bat may be the best. But the idea of a
batsman changing his bat as the pitch gets harder and faster is
entertaining. Perhaps we could do a bounce test and decide which bat
to use and repeat it after it rains or the sun comes out. Perhaps ICC
will have to limit the number of bats a player can have in his bag
like they do with clubs in golf. The commentators could have a field day with it.
"George which bat are you going to begin with today?"
"Well given its a bit damp I'll start with the 6 inch sweet spot and
maybe move to the 8.5 after an hour and then if I'm still there I'll
bring out the 10 inch. That should frighten them."