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The Halo series of cricket sets are ideal for practicing purposes, perhaps not so for matches. The idea behind them is to train in particular areas of the game as opposed to concentrating on batting when someone's trying to bowl you out with a fast ball!
To start with, the bat is somewhat thinner and designed to be more resilient and focusing the power into the middle of the bat. There is less emphasis on being able to edge the ball or tow it, and therefore these areas aren't as carefully designed as the rest. The extremities of the bat (shoulders, toe and edges) are stockier and likely to provide a concentrated front drive to the bat as opposed to nicking the ball and it flying off at an angle.
This makes it great for training, and I thought it was really good to start with, until the cracks started showing. Initially very annoyed, I wondered this could have been as I had mainly used the softer ball that the set comes with. Cricket balls are very solid and hard, the leather tightly woven over a dangerously hard interior. This ball is solid, but much softer, more like a hard tennis ball than a cricket ball. Although I've used a real cricket ball with this bat, I knew it had been designed to drive and drive, so the cracking annoyed me. However, I was reliably informed that it's to do with the design of the bat. Regular bats are designed for a range of flamboyant shots, ranging from hard handed to soft handed, fast bowling and spin, and any cracks or splits in them usually signify the end of the bat. However, the Halo bat is made of willow that is tempered deliberately so that cracks and splits will occur but this will not affect the performance of the bat. Initially dubious, I followed up on checking this and apparently it's true.
The stumps are also white willow, and feel like a more raw wood than the seasoned stumps you usually get. There's one set of full stumps and then a single one, perhaps so you can test you running between the wickets, perhaps as a spare, I'm not sure. It does prevent you from using these for a complete game, but then it's a training set for cricket as opposed to a game set so I guess you can't complain about this too much.
Does this help my game? Well I suppose it must do - the junior set certainly helps my 9 year old son, as it's easier to wield the bat than it is a real one. I don't ever feel confident in using this, and it's not as thin as the Gunn & Moore bat designed to train you to centre the shot every time, so it doesn't necessarily help with this. You can't really practice your deft shots as much either, wherever you make contact it's kind of a driving shot and this does feel weird. Moving from this to playing with a real bat may result in you getting caught at slip or dragging the ball onto your stumps instead of the anticipated down the ground drive you've been perfecting.
It's an okay product, and is probably more of benefit to someone wishing to practice particular shots or for a beginner. The junior sized set certainly is good for beginners. Other than the sturdiness of the bat and stumps in terms of not being damaged permanently despite chips and cracks, the benefit isn't as much as the price of £14 or so would have you believe. A proper cricket set would cost you a whole heap more, so you're not breaking the bank. It's just not as marvellous and I suppose necessary as you may first think.