not too soft, is much the pleasanter to use when new. There are many good bats made of dark wood, but these need to be played with before they can be used with much pleasure. I prefer the light wood or the happy medium. Bats, too, differ in respect of grain. For some reason or other willow with straight grain is the best. Bat-blades with about eight straight grains showing on the face are generally the best. Willow of very close grain has a tendency to chip. A very broad grain generally means hardness. Care must be taken that there are no knots in the blade. A knot is said to strengthen wood and make it durable; but it forms a very hard spot in a bat, and is liable to produce a jarring feeling. At any rate, there should be no knots in the lower half of the blade. The driving part of the bat is that which lies from 6 inches to 1 foot from the bottom. It will be found that a good player, when in form, brings this part of the bat in contact with the ball whatever stroke he happens to make.
There are many different kinds of handles of a resilient nature made nowadays. It is difficult to recommend any one in particular. All the well-known makers supply good bats with good handles. But it is desirable to know how to choose a bat, since all makers produce bad bats as well as good ones. Personally I use Wisden's, Odd's, and Nichol's articles. In the choice of a handle attention should be paid to its elasticity; for if the handle gives a bit when the blade strikes the ball, the jar resulting from the impact is considerably diminished. Stiff-handled bats sometimes sting horribly. Those with good blades and fairly elastic handles make the feeling of striking the ball perfectly delicious. But a handle should not be too springy, or it is liable to break and strain after it has been used once or twice. A weak, springy handle is a mistake. A handle should bend like the buttend of a good fly-rod and not like an aspen stick. Most players nowadays use indiarubber covers for their handles, or sometimes wrappings of wash-leather. Both are good: a young player should find out which he likes best. Indiarubber handle-covers certainly give a good grip, and seem to prevent blisters. They are also cool and comfortable to hold. Leather is rather liable to get very hard and dry, and to slip through the hands.
It is a good thing to have two or three bats, all as nearly alike as possible, in use at the same time. If this is done, there is always a familiar article to hand in case of accidents. It is a mistake not to use in practice the same bats which you are going to use in a match. At any rate, it is safer to have two or three