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April/May 2012

Which cricketers sell bats?

How aware are school-going cricketers of players in our national cricket side or the bats that these players play with? How much of an impact are they making? Do young children remember the players’ brand sponsors and do these choices influence their choices? CARIN HARDISTY did a survey amongst school-going cricket players to establish their bat preferences and whether they are influenced by sponsored players
Cricket bat

Children can be very susceptible to outside influences — for example the choices made by their cricket heroes. Especially, primary school players who have not yet formed a strong loyalty to a specific bat brand would be influenced by the bats used by top cricketers. Or is this a fallacy? Are young cricketers really influenced so much by their favourite cricket players when it comes to the bats they choose to play with? Do they actually KNOW what bats our national team members play with — or does it depend on the popularity of the player?

Sports Trader sent questionnaires to school-age cricket players, seeking answers to the above questions.

More than 250 cricketers from 29 schools from across the country responded before the end of the first term.

We first wanted to establish which bat brands they currently play with, and which brands they would aspire to own if money was no object.

Not surprisingly, most of the respondents play with the traditional cricketing brands.

Gunn & Moore is currently the most popular brand, with (22%) of the respondents saying that they bat with this brand. This is also the most aspirational brand: close to a quarter (23.3%) of respondents indicated that, if money was not a factor, they would want to play with a Gunn & Moore bat.

Kookaburra, used by popular T20 and ODI captain AB de Villiers, is the bat brand currently owned by the second highest number of respondents (18%). It is also the next most aspirational brand, with more than a fifth (20.4%) of the respondents saying they would like to play with a Kookaburra bat.

Bellingham & Smith (the choice of 13.1%) and Gray-Nicolls (used by 12.7%) are the bat brands owned by the next most respondents.

Interestingly, Puma is the bat brand that the third highest number of respondents (10.2%) aspire to play with. About the same number of respondents play with Puma and Slazenger bats (6%).

Nearly 8% of the respondents aspire to own a Bellingham & Smith or an adidas bat — this is the fourth highest number that aspire to play with a brand.

Happy with their current choice

When we asked the learners what brand they aspire to play with if money was no option, 39% indicated that they would want to stay with their current brand. Of these respondents 15% went as far as to specify the specific bat model in their current brand range that they would love to play with.

The learners that currently play with Kookaburra and Gunn & Moore are the keenest to continue playing with their current bat brands. A quarter (25.3%) of the respondents who play with the brand that they also aspire to, play with a Kookaburra, and 23.2% with a Gunn & Moore bat.

These two international brands are followed by local brand Bellingham & Smith — 12.6% of all respondents who currently play with the same brand that they aspire to have Bellingham & Smith bats.

Inspired by the captains

Surely the one player in the team that stands out the most is the captain. He is in the news the most and should therefore be best recognised.

Could this also account for the popularity of Gunn & Moore (used by Graeme Smith) or Kookaburra (used by AB de Villiers) amongst school players?

We asked respondents to name the Proteas test captain, the Proteas ODI and T20 captain and the Proteas ODI and T20 vice-captain as well as to name the bat brands they play with.

Proteas test captain: 60% of the respondents know that Smith is our test captain. Around 7% of respondents think he is still the Proteas’ ODI and T20 captain, or the vice-captain, respectively. Nearly 60% know that he plays with a Gunn & Moore bat.

  • Proteas ODI and T20 captain: 60% of the respondents know that De Villiers (World #1 test batsman) is the captain of the Proteas ODI and T20 sides. The greater majority (56.7%) of respondents know that he plays with Kookaburra, while the next highest group (10.6%) of respondents thinking that he plays with a Gunn & Moore bat.

  • Proteas ODI and T20 vice-captain: Just under half of the respondents (47.8%) know that Hashim Amla is our vice-captain. This is quite a low percentage, considering that Amla is the third most popular player amongst the respondents. Even fewer (38.4%) know that the vice-captain plays with the BAS Vampire brand.

  • It seems that while respondents admire the players, they are not keeping tabs on much about them, beyond the fact that they are in the national side.

    Keep in mind that this survey was sent out, and quite a few forms returned, while the Proteas were playing T20 and ODI matches against New Zealand. This means that De Villiers would have been the active captain and often in the news. Therefore, while Smith has been captain of the Proteas since 2003, he was not actively captaining.

    Favourite players

    When we asked them to tell us who their favourite Proteas batsman is, three names stood out: AB de Villiers (31.4%), Jacques Kallis (22%) and Hashim Amla (11.8%).

    Two of these three are either captain or vice-captain of the national side. If your favourite player is the captain of a team, you would know all about him.

    Right? Maybe … but not always.

  • Nearly two-thirds (63.6%) of respondents who indicated that Smith is their favourite player (9% of all respondents) know that he is the Proteas test captain.

  • More than three-quarters (76.6%) of respondents who indicated that De Villiers is their favourite player, know that he is the Proteas ODI and T20 captain.

  • 69% of respondents who indicated that Amla is their favourite player know that he is the Proteas vice-captain.

  • Impact players Some players automatically catch your eye when they play.

    Be it because of one specific innings that made the world sit up and listen, or because they have led by example and left their mark over their entire career.

    How aware are respondents of the brands that these impact players play with, or of the milestones that they have achieved?

    While just under a quarter of respondents rate World #3 batsman Kallis as their favourite player, a third of the respondents know that he was the 2011 SA Cricketer of the Year. A quarter (24.5%) of the respondents think that Amla was awarded the title and 11% think De Villiers was the Cricketer of the Year.

    Similarly, 27.3% of the respondents know that the 2011 SA Cricketer of the Year plays with Slazenger, while 18% think he plays with BAS Vampire (Amla’s bat). Clearly Amla made an impression on the young players.

    After that performance in New Zealand where he scored a century off just 45 balls and hit 13 sixes in one innings, close to half of the respondents (47.8%) know that Richard Levi currently holds the record for the fastest century in a T20. Close to a third of respon- dents (30.6%) know that the record holder plays with a Bellingham & Smith bat. Not bad for a newcomer to international cricket.

    However, quite a high percentage (20.4%) thinks that the record holder plays with a Gunn & Moore bat. Could this be due to Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene, who plays with Gunn & Moore, holding the record at one point? Or perhaps the brand is so closely associated with quality players that the respondents automatically guess Gunn & Moore when they do not know?

    Influences

    In the survey, we asked respondents if they have ever been influenced by a professional player’s bat choice. Half of the respondents indicated that they have been influenced by players, with AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith and JP Duminy the players who have most influenced respondents in our survey. Of those who indicated that they have been influenced by a player, 22% indicated it was De Villiers, 15.4% Smith and 10.6% Duminy.

    But, 12.2% of the respondents who said that they have been influenced, said they were swayed by a brand, and not a player — which suggests that for some respondents the bat made a greater impression than the player.

    On the flip side, 35% of respondents only indicated a player that influenced them and not the bat that the player uses. This suggests that while they like the player, they do not pay close enough attention to remember (or notice) what brand they play with.

    Which bat brands had the most influence on the respondents? Most respondents were influenced to change to Kookaburra (15.4%) and Gunn & Moore (14.6%).

    Yet, it Is not safe to assume that the respondents’ favourite players influence their buying decisions. Just over a quarter (26.8%) of the respondents who indicated that they have been influenced by a player to choose a bat brand, indicated that they were influenced by their current favourite player.

    Aware of sponsors?

    How aware are the respondents of the Proteas team members’ sponsors? The majority of respondents (34.7%) know that Puma sponsors the Morkel brothers, Albie and Morné. While only a small percentage (1.6%) of respondents indicated that bowler Morné Morkel is their favourite Proteas batsman, this is the same percentage as those who indicated that the newest star on the block, Levi, and old-time favourite Herschelle Gibbs are their favourite batsmen.

    Nearly half of the respondents (44%) know that the world #1 test bowler, Dale Steyn, bats with Slazenger. Close to half of respondents (48.6%) know that JP Duminy plays with Gray-Nicolls.

    Interestingly, most of the respondents who got the players’ bat brands wrong, guessed that they play with Gunn & Moore. Just over half of respondents (55.1%) know that all-rounder Faf du Plessis plays with Gunn & Moore.

    More respondents (46.5%) know that bowler Robin Peterson plays with a Gunn & Moore bat, than respondents who know that opening batsman Alviro Petersen plays with BAS Vampire (33.1%). Even then, 20.8% think that Petersen plays with Gunn & Moore.

    Could the fact that their surnames are so similar be confusing cricket viewers? Or is it just that respondents seem to think that Gunn & Moore sponsor the majority of the Proteas?

    Cricket range info

    Aero

    Aero will this season again be at the forefront of technological developments and innovative product advancements with its foam-based protection range, says local distributor Wayne Schonegevel of OBO SA. They are regarded as experts in protection, due to their cutting edge and unique foam moulding technologies delivering that competitive advantage all players seek.

    Strippers, Aero's unique lower body protection system, are expected to continue with their successful run. This unrivaled product is regarded as the world's most advanced cricket thigh protection system, says Schonegevel. The new model features excellent protection, 3D moulding (it always stays in place), an integrated design and improved strapping system (that allows natural movement and mobility) and is easy to use and washable.

    P1 models are protection rated to 160kph, P2 to 130 kph and the junior P3 to 110kph. Like the Strippers, the Aero forearm guard utilises dual density layers of high impact foam and plastics that are contoured to fit the arm. Three sizes enable an unique fit.

    Underlying Aero's base in protection is the fielding hand protector. It allows longer training times and faster ball speeds due to the strategically placed gel pads. Silicone and Amara leather palms provide added protection and comfort, with the lycra rear providing a snug fit.

    Aero's unique foam leg protectors are available in three levels of protection, all with 3D moulded comfort fit. The 2012/13 season sees the most advanced junior leg protector, the improved P3 Junior version changes appearance to the more traditional pad look, but it still maintains all the design benefits of foam. They are up to 65% lighter than old style pads.

    BAS Vampire

    BAS Vampire is distributed locally by Sedgars Sport.

    The BAS Vampire King Hitter is a fine quality English Willow bat that is of medium weight, has a properly shaped curve, thick blade and edges and a thick pick-up. The weight range is 2lb 8oz-3lb 2oz.

    Their Legend Cold bat is made of superior English Willow and has been superbly crafted to meet the ever-increasing demand for stroke play. It has an easy pick-up and is proportionally curved with a big bulge for proper balance. The bat weighs 2lb 6oz–2lb 16oz.

    The BAS Vampire Bow 20/20 Limited Edition is a superior quality grade 1 English Willow bat. It has a very light pick-up (feels about 2lb 7oz) with immaculate balance, 32mm edges and has an exceptional rebound. The bat weighs 2lb 10oz and has an oval handle shape.

    Gunn & Moore

    Opal Sports distributes the Gunn & Moore range of quality cricket equipment that is designed and produced by our own craftsmen and women in our own factory in Nottingham, England and used by top international players.

    The Icon DXM bat — used by ECB Mens Player of the Year 2011, Jonathan Trott — has a lightweight design and features thick power edges, high swell position, super concave profile and toe.

    The Epic DXM — used by Proteas test captain, Graeme Smith — features big edges, elongated swell height, super concave profile, perimeter weighting, substantial toe.

    Both bats are made from the very best unbleached, seasoned Grade 1 willow.

    The Original Limited Edition d3o batting pads and gloves feature the d3o Intelligent Shock Absorption™ technology, which is a patented, shock absorbing material specifically engineered with intelligent molecules that flow with you as you move, but lock together on shock to absorb impact energy.

    The Original Limited Edition wicket keeper pads feature a PU facing, high-density foam face filling, 2” straps and comfort low density foam vertical bolster.

    The Original Limited Edition wicket keeper gloves feature aniline leather on the back of the hand, a sheepskin leather palm, full leather lining, GM cotton palm filling and a neoprene palm facing.

    JRT Crampton

    JRT Crampton, suppliers of Kookaburra that is popular among players, have several items of equipment to help coaches. Not to be confused with cheap imitations, the Fusion Skyer is the original coaching bat. The bright orange bat with the patented highly technical foam face was designed to offer more precision and power than a normal cricket bat for fielding drills and enables training to take place with more pace and intensity than in match situations.

    The Fusion Multi-Stump is aptly named due to the multiple roles it can perform, taking the previous functional stump into the 21st century, and provides the coach and player with a training aid that responds to the needs of the modern cricketer. It can also double as a catching aid.

    Now a staple training product for international cricket teams (12 out of the 16 teams in the 2007 ICC World Cup used it), the Katchet is equally beneficial for children and the club player. Used to simulate deflections occurring when the cricket ball moves off the seam, or deflects off the bat, the Katchet allows the player to practice catches in game conditions. Slazenger

    Slazenger cricket has shown that it performs well on the pitch in the last season, with players like Kallis continuing to stamp their authority out there on the field — SA duo Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn are currently ranked world #3 batsman and world #1 bowler respectively for tests.

    “With continued investment into players and research and development, Slazenger again offer serious protection for aspiring and top performing cricketers,” says Steve Gallienne of local distributor Super-Brands.

    Slazenger caters for different price points across their V series, so that retailers are able to optimise their margins, while offering great value for money to customers.

    They have added colour to their grips, which is sure to add to shelf appeal. They are also introducing the Octoplus grip design. The grip design offers improved upper hand grip and increased lower hand cushioning for enhanced control and feel. The Octoplus grip is available on all English Willow bats.

    To further aesthetically attract attention, they have sexed up the stickers and have even put the Slazenger panther on the toe guards.

    Their pads and gloves cater for a wide variety of levels: from the international protection rating, all the way down through to the starter. The Ultimate gloves boast Pittards leather palms, 1500 amourK on the forefingers, combined with braided fiber inserts.

    With their Impact Protection System (IPS) to protect the knees, the VAP-R8 mesh bolster guarantees comfort to the shin and knee.

    Their Elite X-LITE series features international protection ratings across the glove and the exceptionally light pads. The products in the County protection ratings level cater for aspiring players and those wanting to add some colour to their game, while still experiencing high performance products to support their performance and protection. The Classic series, popular worldwide, will be continued in the new season.

    The accessories keep growing from strength to strength, says Gallienne. The hard cover score books offer great value and are handy for schools to keep and archive once full. Their spring stumps and other accessories are all margin spinners.

    Stormforce

    Orbit Sports recently acquired three exciting new cricket helmet designs that will cater for everything from entry level to the top end. These helmets will be available at extremely reasonable prices in order to give the retailer a much larger profit margin.

    They are also launching their new lightweight foam batting leg guards in sizes from youth to adults. These leg guards are exceptionally lightweight, guaranteeing comfort and added speed to the batsman.

    Additionally, they are launching their innovative Spot-On Target Bowling Mat that will assist bowlers to work on their accuracy, line and length. The rubber mats are placed at various spots near the crease where one would like the ball to land and the bowler aims to bowl the ball directly onto this mat. This is an incredibly effective training aid that can be used at all levels and adds another dimension to your training techniques.


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