In the build-up to the festive period, we’ve collaborated with the experts at Pro:Direct, the world’s largest online sports store, to bring you a selection of the gear that’s impressed us the most in 2022.
Originally published in Wisden Cricket Monthly.
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Wisden’s Gear of the Year 2022 – Cricket bats
GM Diamond Original
Adult prices from £126
Junior prices from £95 and £50 for Kashmir Willow
A blockbuster of a cricket bat with a classical look and feel. As used by Ben Stokes, the Diamond possesses a relatively high middle which favours cross-bat shots, with a characteristically great pick-up. The top-end offerings carry all the notable Gunn & Moore stylings, with an extended swell to help with offmiddle hits, the best unbleached Grade 1 Willow, all fortified with a GM NOW! protective cover and ToeTek toe protector as standard.
Adult prices from £130
Junior prices from £90
Gray-Nics’ bestseller of the year is the Alpha. Pitt says: “Great profile with a mid-blade sweet spot and a high spine, making it a fairly hefty bat yet with a light pick-up.”
World Class Willow Pro X20
Adult prices from £300
Junior Prices from £120
Handmade in Bridgewater, Somerset, using their own willow trees, World Class Willow have made a name for themselves as one of the most distinctive new brands on the market. Used by the likes of local hero Will Smeed, you can pick from a range of jazzy graphics that personify the vibrancy of the modern game, while in shape the blades are a nod to local class and traditional pedigree. “Huge bats, made for power,” says Pitt.
Adult Prices from £284
Junior Prices from £150
Developed from a Pro:Direct exclusive, the Blitz has now become a firm Newbery favourite. The grand old brand, part of batmaking aristocracy in the UK, is still producing quality blades from their workshop in Sussex. “A big bat with wood in all the right places meaning it is suitable for most cricketers,” says Pitt.
Prices from £189
Chase’s status as WCM favourites has been reinforced with these spangly new blades, available to buy now and through 2023. The Vortex is the standout, with its jazzy graphics – in contrast to the minimalist livery of earlier models – reflecting the Hampshire company’s buoyant confidence: “The slightly shortened blade helps create a full profile for maximum power,” says Pro:Direct’s cricket expert Andy Pitt. “It gets all that wood in the meat of the bat, but it still picks up beautifully.”
Adult prices from £126
Junior prices from £100
With those classy graphics, the Kryos really does catch your eye. But that’s nothing next to the feeling when you pick it up. “A really full profile with a mid-profile sweet spot and a shortened blade means it picks up like a dream,” says Pitt; by slightly shortening the blade, batmakers can spread more wood across a wider hitting area. “They take less shape out the back, which means more wood between the spine and the edge.”
Gray-Nicolls Hypernova 1.3
Adult prices from £175
Junior prices from £150
This is the bat you’ll have seen in the magical hands of Pakistani superstars Babar Azam and Mo Rizwan. “This will no doubt be a best seller. They’ve done quite well getting those guys onboard, getting that visibility in Asia. It’s going be incredibly popular, they’ve taken the inspiration and shape from what their pro players would use, quite traditional, full profile.
Wisden’s Gear of the Year 2022 – Gloves, pads, helmets etc.
adidas XT 1.0
Gloves these days tend to eschew the sausage finger style, but this adidas gauntlet is faithful to the old style, offering maximum protection with a nice colour pop of teal. Their pads, meanwhile, are elegance personified. Get them while you can; the legendary brand is pulling out of cricket after a change in strategic direction from adidas Global.
Working out of their workshop in Basingstoke, Chase have been churning out excellent gear for some time now. Their bats have proven very popular, with WCM’s editor-in-chief Phil Walker going with the Volante R7 as his bat of choice last season. Their softs are top-class too, says Pitt: “Clean shark-tooth design on the gloves, and made with high quality materials, means they will last the test of time.”
Gunn & Moore Original LE Keeping Gloves
Not cheap, but top quality. Taking inspiration from wide receivers in American Football, the palmfacing material on these gloves produce up to 50 per cent greater friction than the materials widely used on others.
New Balance CK10
Still the kings of the road, New Balance have updated their iconic CK10 shoe this year and the model will be available to purchase throughout 2023. It’s a stylish thing, and “super lightweight” says Pitt. “It’s more like a running shoe than a traditional cricket boot, even down to the ‘Flying NB’ logo placed across the forefoot that you get on their running shoes.”
Hard Yards socks
“Grip socks have become incredibly popular in recent years, and Hard Yards have developed socks that are hard wearing and with grip that will last,” says Pitt. And now they’ve introduced a bowling-specific sock, with double density padding around the ankle and toes.
adidas XT 3.0 Duffle Bag
It seems that all cricket bags are massive these days, but adidas have struck the right balance with this duffle bag, big enough to fit in all your kit but not so big that you wind up your teammates in the dressing room.
C&D Albion Helmet
Adult & Junior price from £75
Legendary lid-makers C&D updated this model for 2022 to meet the new standards. It’s a take on the classic helmet worn by many pros, such as Ricky Ponting. Available in steel and titanium, this ultralightweight lid is made using modern technologies to minimise weight and maximise protection.
Wisden’s Gear of the Year 2022 – Arm Guards
Pitt: “The new must-have accessory, arm guards have evolved from the bulky thing they used to be into sweatbands with solid protection.”
Prices from £21
Market stalwarts in the manufacture of protective equipment, Ayrtek’s latest is available in multiple sizes and colours.
Prices from £22.50
Developed originally by New Zealand cricketer Mark Chapman, a lightweight yet protective arm guard.
Prices from £22.50
New names on the market, this Hard Yards offering has the option to change the thickness of padding with 6mm or 10mm protection.
Wisden’s Gear of the Year 2022 – Misc.
England Castore T20 Shirt
Adults from £60
Juniors from £50
How can we not include this shirt? Pitt: “It’s been a popular item in the Castore range anyway but after the World Cup triumph we can’t see it staying on the shelves for long.”
R66t Academy Ball Feeder
Patented by the Joe Root Academy, this is a joyous training aid for kids of all ages and a great gift idea for Christmas. The machine serves up to eight balls in a row, each ball dispatched at eight-second intervals, so you can practise all by yourself without the need for a feeder to load the balls one by one. Battery or mains-operated, it’s highly portable and the perfect training tool to take to nets or use in the back garden.
Swinga Training Ball
This training ball, coming in three different colour options, is an ideal addition to any player’s kitbag. Great to bowl with, challenging to face. “A great training aid to mimic the ball swinging naturally and not excessively,” says Pro:Direct’s cricket expert Andy Pitt. “Can be used in a side arm or for throw-downs.”