This range of cricket bat was in fact out back in the 90’s but Newberry had a bit of a lay off with these but bought them back in 2016. You probably know that we are a huge fan of Newbery and you’ll often see their bats in our best cricket bats to buy this year post.
The SPS grade is their top range English willow. The Merlin bat is on average about 2”11 in weight which is great for you bigger players that are looking for some meat behind your shots.
Looking at the handle of the bats, you get their signature famous fin handle which is thicker at the top and gets thinner down towards the middle and lower parts of the handle. Not only does it help the pick-up, but also works with the counter-balancing of the bat. Newberry actually believe that the technology that it makes the bat pick up lighter by up to 3 ounces.
So, for me as someone who’s used to using a 2”8 bat, the beautiful pick-up you get with these meant that I was able to use a 2”10 without it feeling like that dead weight.
The big thing I noticed with these is where the middle is on the bat. It’s what would be known as a mid to high sweet spot which is great for back foot play especially on fast tracks. The Merlin’s have the highest sweet spot in the Newberry range.
I’m pre-dominantly a front foot player so I was initially quite hesitant with these. But, there’s still quite a bit of wood in the toe area so pretty responsive towards the lower end of the bat.
I would envision the best suited batsmen for this to be someone who loves playing the ball late with very quick hands.
In terms of the profile for the Merlin cricket bats, there’s not really any wood being taken out of the bat, the slightest bit of concaving not really noticeable at all. So, you get a nice full profile which is what I like because you know you’ll get a decent amount of wood behind your off-centre hits. This gives you more margin for error.
There’s a very slight bow towards the lower end of the bat which again is a feature I love with my bats because it helps those front-foot lofted shots to clear the infield.
Having taken it down the nets for a couple of practice hits, the bat is very responsive. As you’d expect, the wood is very soft with that high-grade English willow. It sounds awesome off the bat with plenty of ping. Obviously, not as good in the lower regions in the bat as the higher because of the higher sweet spot but the ball does ping pretty good all over the bat.
In terms of prices, I’ll be honest, it is a pretty big jump between the SPS and the player. SPS is obviously top of the range willow but for me the player range isn’t exactly a massive step down. I would still think it can be classed as grade 1 because it’s high quality bit of willow that doesn’t really have any blemishes and looks pretty clean.
I would personally say that the player range is good enough and offers everything you need as a batsman so whether you want to spend that extra amount on an SPS comes down to how much you play and if you see the benefits of that top of the range willow.