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With the cricket World Cup just around the corner, things are heating up. Fans around the world want to sport their team’s kit and often take to online shopping to find the best deals. Unfortunately, the cricket market isn’t immune to counterfeits. Fake cricket bats, balls, shirts and more can proliferate around World Cup time. In this article, we’ll talk about a few of the most common counterfeits and how you can spot them.
Fake cricket bats are a huge problem. But you probably won’t find them in actual stores. That’s because a cricket bat supplier will only work with vendors they trust and with product they can see and verify. The trouble comes when you start shopping for cricket bats online.
Maybe your local stores don’t carry cricket equipment, or maybe you’re wanting a special model. When you go to an online store, be careful. To start, make sure the seller has posted an actual photo of the bat. If there’s only a stock photo, that’s a clue. Also, if the price seems too good to be true—50% or more off of the regular price—it probably is. The only way a bat should be that cheap is if it’s used.
Even if you see a picture of a real bat, things can still be tricky. Just try searching “Cricket Bat Sticker” in eBay and you’ll find many listings. A counterfeiter can simply buy any of these stickers, put them on a bat of lower quality, and sell it as the real thing. Always compare photos from independent sellers to verified online stores of the brand you’re looking at. If the stickers are the same, you might be able to notice little differences in the grip. If you have any doubts, it’s best to pass on.
Keep a note of the stickers available on eBay for the brand you’re looking at. Authentic stickers won’t be sold online. Bats that use stickers available online have a high chance of being fake, so it’s a good idea to stay away from those.
Another thing fake cricket bat sellers do is sell you lower grade wood at a higher grade price. For example, a bat may be made of grade 4 willow but is sold as a grade 2. Without checking it out physically, you might not be able to tell. Or, a seller could claim to be selling an English willow bat which is actually Kashmir willow. Kashmir willow has been prefered by some players, but if you’re paying an English willow price, that’s not good.
Some counterfeit cricket bat makers have even gone so far as to cover their Kashmir willow bat with English willow veneers. They can be made so well that you wouldn’t tell by visual inspection. But if you removed the toe cap, you’d see the layers of wood underneath. Sometimes, the grain on a veneer-covered bat will be different on the face and spine—for example, you count 15 grains going across on the face but only 10 on the spine. That’s a sign of a counterfeit bat.
A Kashmir willow bat sold as an English willow model would also be heavier. When a bat has a sticker specifying a certain weight, that’s for the original version. The fake bat could weigh 20% or more over what the sticker says, and you wouldn’t know this without testing it out in person.
This next technique only applies if you have the chance to compare the bat to a known authentic model. You might find that the counterfeit bat has different measurements altogether. It could be longer or have a different swell depth. Needless to say, a counterfeit model has a slim chance of performing the way an authentic model does. Balance and weight can be totally off, and it may be advertised as a knocked-in bat when it’s really not.
It’s impossible to tell these things if you only see stock pictures. But sometimes your only option is to shop for cricket bats online. If this is the case, try to only purchase bats from sellers with verifiable physical addresses. Not only is there a higher chance of their business being legitimate, but you have another way to contact them if something goes wrong.
Stay away from “Grade A” bats as this is not a thing. The grades are 1 through 5. There is a “Style A,” but this refers to a style 90% of bats fall into. Some sellers might make up a story about purchasing a bat in new condition and selling it at a “great loss” to justify the discount. That’s another red flag. And as we said earlier, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Anything under 30% off the average retail price should be scrutinized.
Counterfeiters do a lot of business around the World Cup. People love to show their support through wearing their team’s jersey and will often try to find the best deal to get one in time for the main event. With the low cost of manufacturing overseas, counterfeit sellers can take advantage of this. And some buyers might even be aware. Almost a quarter of UK consumers say they’d buy counterfeit merchandise to save money.
If you’re looking for an official shirt or kit, the same general rules apply here. Stick to authentic businesses with physical addresses. Genuine England replica cricket shirts start around £30. Counterfeit ones may look the same online, but will have differences in person.
For example, the direction the sleeves lay when flat can be an indicator. Perhaps on one official shirt, the sleeves should lay towards the waist. But on a counterfeit of that shirt, the sleeves may lay straight out to the sides. Also, the counterfeit won’t have the same quality feel as the official shirt. Counterfeits are made cheaply and in mass quantities—so cheaply that the sellers can even make a profit from such a low price. So don’t expect them to last nearly as long as an original.
The same goes for cricket replica kits. Authentic gear is the only gear you can count on to be made to spec and to last. The bottom line in shopping for cricket bats and kits online is you get what you pay for. If you want long-lasting product from the source, stick with brands and their authorized dealers.