Cricket Batting Gloves - The Buyer's Guide
No matter what standard of cricket you play, the hands are probably the part of body most susceptible to serious injury. Whilst fielding incidents are quite common the majority of hand and finger injuries occur whilst batting where a miss-timed shot results in the ball jamming the hand against the handle of the bat. It therefore goes without saying that cricket batting gloves are crucial to providing batsmen with sufficient protection to prevent injury and inspire confidence.
In many respects the basic protection supplied by most cricket gloves hasn't changed a great deal in decades. In most cases, simple raw cotton fibres are stuffed into sausage-like sections which are connected to the back of finger and hand sections of a leather or synthetic substitute glove. At the lower end of most ranges cricket batting gloves do not appear much different to those used decades ago. It is only as we start to move up through the price ranges that we start to see some modern technology being added.
Please note that the most basic protection levels offered by some cricket batting gloves are only really appropriate for junior cricket and should generally not be used by senior club players or high level school players.
Some cricket batting gloves from the mid-range upwards often feature the addition of side bar padding which offers additional protection to the index finger of the bottom hand in order to provide extra protection to the side of the leading hand from awkwardly bouncing balls.
High Density Foam
Although raw cotton has proved more than adequate as the primary padding in cricket batting gloves for a long time, modern high density foams offer even better impact absorption as well as a notable reduction in weight. As you progress through most ranges of cricket batting gloves, you would expect to see greater use of HD foam inserts to a point where the raw cotton may be replaced entirely.
Inserts & Finger Casings
As ball pace increases many batsmen find that raw cotton or HD foam padding is no longer sufficient to protect your hands. At this stage many manufacturers start to incorporate stiffer materials such as strong plastics as inserts which help to spread the impact over a greater area of padding and therefore offer better protection. In some cases these stiffer materials are used to create tunnels or casings for the finger, which can be only slightly compressed, offering even high levels of protection. This level of protection is often reserved for the first two fingers of the bottom hand, where the vast majority of high speed impacts occur.
d3o & Smart Fabrics
d3o is the first commercial use of what is termed a "smart fabric" in cricket batting gloves. Currently only licensed to Gunn and Moore in the cricket market, the material in its normal form feels very much like rubber, being fairly soft and very pliable. It is only when an impact force is applied that you notice anything different. d3o responds to shock by becoming completely rigid, and for a very brief period offers the same protection as a more solid material like hard plastic. This means that for majority of the time you have a product that will stretch and flex in response to your hand, but the instant it feels an impact acts like a shield dissipating the shock away from the point of contact. d3o's additional benefit in this respect is that is can offer the same amount of shock absorption in a much thinner piece if material. This is likely to be the future of sports protection.
Unlike protection, the comfort aspects of cricket batting glove design have seen quite a number of advances over the years. In cricket batting gloves, comfort could be considered as resulting from a combination of flexibility, feel and ventilation. One thing regarding the comfort aspects of cricket batting gloves that should be pointed out is that comfort, in most cases, does not go hand in hand with durability and that many of the most expensive gloves will not offer much in the way of longevity.
Allowing cricket batting gloves to respond and flex in synch with the hand that is wearing them, rather than being stuck in a pre-moulded claw, is a key factor in their comfort. The difficulty is allowing the flexibility without impairing the glove's ability to protect. To achieve this most manufacturers break up padding on the fingers, thumb and back of the hand into multiple sections, allowing each section to move independently of the others and in turn, mimic the underlying hand. As you move up through the ranges you will see finger padding broken up into 2, 3, 4 and even 5 parts for improved flex, whilst top level batting gloves will also feature 2 part thumbs.
Much of the comfort in cricket batting gloves when having to bat for long periods of time can be derived from the feel of the batting gloves materials, more particularly that of the material in contact with the palm of the hand. As you go through ranges from bottom to top you will recognise the use of a number of different materials used in the palm area of cricket batting gloves. Below you will find a brief description of these materials and their associated benefits.
The use of cotton as a palm material is simply the cheapest option. Long periods of play can result in your hands feeling chaffed, and in warmer conditions the cotton tends to soak up moisture making the batting gloves uncomfortable and maintaining a good grip very difficult. PVC is used as reinforcement in particularly high-wear areas.
Cow leather offers increased comfort and feel over basic cotton options, whilst maintaining a high level of durability.
- Calfskin Leather
Calfskin is often many batsmen's preference due to its exceptional softness. However what you gain in comfort you tend to lose in durability as calfskin leather will tend to wear quicker than other options.
- Kangaroo Leather
Studies have confirmed that Kangaroo leather is one of the strongest leathers available, particularly when split into thinner layers. Kangaroo leather is also noticeably lighter than comparable leathers such as cow, calf or goat.
- Pittards Leather
Pittards Cricket glove leather combines excellent grip and strength characteristics with softness of touch and feel for the overall comfort and safety of the players. Pittards Cricket glove leather has been specially produced with textured patterns which are cut into the leather to provide ultimate grip and bat control in all weather conditions. Although very strong, Pittards leather ensures exceptional dexterity and flexibility through the softness inherent to the base glove tannage. Pittards WR100X provides excellent water repellence and low water uptake for greater insulation benefits and optimum comfort. The leather is specially treated to protect the fibre structure against the effect of perspiration and thus to ensure that the glove retains its softness and feel even after repeated exposure.
Maintaining comfort in sometimes extreme weather conditions is a particularly important aspect of the design of mid to top range cricket batting gloves. In addition to the loss of comfort, when hands get hot and sweaty not only do you feel uncomfortable, you may also find that your grip is compromised. The key to maintaining this aspect of comfort is moisture management. In most cases moisture levels are kept under control by ensuring that there is sufficient air flow throughout the batting gloves. As you go up through the ranges you will start to notice more and more features designed to maximise airflow including perforated palms and the use of mesh materials in low-wear areas. In addition some top level cricket batting gloves will also feature double sided towelling wrist closures to minimise any moisture dripping down the arm into the gloves.
As with many products, the actual size and fitting of cricket batting gloves can vary dramatically between brands and it is highly unlikely that any guide will ever prove more successful than simply trying product on yourself. Unfortunately many of us don't have the luxury of visiting a local cricket specialist, so we have compiled this table based on information from a number of different brands to provide you with an industry average guide to cricket batting gloves sizes. Please ensure you measure from the start of the wrist to the end of your longest finger, as indicated in the diagram.
|Hand Length (mm)||Batting Glove Size|
In almost every case, spending more money on cricket batting gloves will get you more protection and more comfort. However if you're looking for durability be wary of calfskin palms which will be extremely comfortable but may not last more than one full season.
To maintain your cricket batting gloves, ensure that they are left to dry naturally immediately after use in a warm dry environment. Try and avoid leaving the gloves in your cricket bag or in other cold wet places, as the leather and other materials used can become damaged or affected by mould, but more importantly will simply be pretty uncomfortable.