Caring for Soft Goods

Your hard-earned money is spent on your cricket equipment!  It is not just bats that need care but your gloves (batting/keeper,) pads (batting/keeper/thigh, etc.), inners, kit bag and others.  They are also the most widely cared for in the wrong manner.  Here are some tips to take care of them and keep them in good shape.

After purchase
You purchased your favorite set of accessories.  Always inspect for damage or defects.  If everything looks good, you want to try wearing them and flex them as if in normal use several times prior to using them in a game.  This helps the leathers and stitches of the gear to give in a bit (or in other words relax) and thus mold to your body better.  This will help the gear to be much more comfortable when in use.  For gloves, wear them over inner gloves and hold a bat and try playing some normal shots.  Same thing for batting pads – try them on and move your feet around, stretch forward with each foot to stretch the straps and the pads.  It is also a good idea to keep the straps a little tightened when storing them to sort of force a molded shape as if around your leg.

After Game Use
You used your equipment in a game and you are done with it and need to store it away.  But you had been out there in the hot weather and have sweated quite a bit.  Shouldn’t you leave it to dry?  Time and again, you can see players (even international ones) who lay out their gloves, pads and helmets to dry out in the sun.  That is so wrong!!!  Nothing can damage leather or plastics worse than the sun.  Leather is a natural material we obtain from cattle and other animals and they last the best when cleaned and dried away from the sun.  In sports equipment we wear, sweat has our body salts which can cause leather to deteriorate in time.  Dry it in the sun and you dry up the leather and these salts together, fastening the deterioration.  That is why it is recommended and why most players use and change their inners and also gloves more often.  Batting/Keeper pads have cloth and spongy lining which takes care of the sweat from reaching the leather but even they should be air dried in the shade.  If time does not permit, make sure you pack them and unpack them at the soonest once home, so it can dry slowly.  DO NOT leave wet accessories in the kit bag which could cause mold formation (really bad) and increase chances for foul odor.  All these will cause the leather to deteriorate rapidly.  Washing gloves is not recommended since they have different materials and more intricate pieces tediously stitched together which could be ruined. Ensure the bags you store them is breathable or has vents to allow air flow.  Plastic materials can be wiped clean with just a water-wet cloth or paper-towel.  Ensure it is dry before storing them away.

Store your kit and your equipment in a safe and dry area away from heat sources and sunlight.  Check the area for critters or access for critters (rats, mice, ants, etc.) which could cause damage to your equipment. Another sad thing and is very commonly seen among a lot of players is that they leave their accessory straps all loose.  Always ensure straps are properly secured with the hook part of the Velcro straps not loose.  If loose, they could easily snag into the wrist portion of the gloves and other equipment causing damage to other equipment or itself.  

Here are some links about caring for leather.  Not everything is applicable to sports gears but the key is letting them air-dry and not in the sun.  Happy cricketing everyone!