Is Cricket Bat Making An Endangered Craft

Cricket bat manufacturing is classed as an endangered craft. Here at Chase Cricket, we are proud to be using traditional methods to handcraft the finest English willow cricket bats.

The origins of cricket

As history tells us cricket has its origins firmly placed in the south of England with players using hedgerow sticks for cricket bats, sheep pen gates for stumps, and animal droppings rolled with wool as the ball. The sport grew popular in the southeast of England, with the first reference to the use of the willow cricket bat dating back to 1624.

What is traditional bat making?

Our baker makers are experts at their craft. They spend years of dedication and innovation to perfect their skills and adapt to the changing demands of the game, without moving away from traditional bat making methods. Cricket bat making is a long process involving many individual steps including; grading the English willow, selecting and seasoning the wood, machining the clefts into a very basic shape, pressing the bats to compress the fibres, fitting the handle into the blade, shaping the blade with a drawknife, shaping the shoulders and handle with a drawknife and spoke shave, sanding the shaped bat, rasping the handle, binding the handle with linen thread, and polishing the completed bat. 

What is the difference between a cricket bat manufacturer and a cricket bat brand?

A cricket bat manufacturer handcrafts their cricket bats, by hand, from a cleft of willow. A cricket bat brand sources their bats, either part made or fully made from either abroad or elsewhere in the UK and adds their own stickers.

What’s the difference between a handmade cricket bat and one that has been mass produced?

The care and quality of the crafting methods. Our methods ensure every bat is handcrafted individually, with every care taken to ensure each cricket bat meets our exceptionally high standards. It also ensures we can check the performance of each cricket bat, which is key to every cricketer!

Issues affecting authentic cricket bat manufacturers.

Manufacturer versus Brand: There are many bat ‘brands’ claiming that their bats are handmade in the UK, however there are only a handful of genuine UK manufacturers. Many cricket brands sell cricket bats that have been made abroad in countries such as India or Pakistan and only finished when they are imported back into the UK. There are also brands who purchase part made cricket bats and, despite claiming they make, only finish the bats.

Consumer knowledge: It is very difficult for the consumer to know which cricket brands are authentic manufacturers and which ones import their cricket bats. It is down to the customer to carry out their own research or ask the company where the bats are made and (hopefully) rely on them being honest. 

Pro player influence: High profile cricket players are paid large sums of money, by big cricket bat brands to endorse their products. Smaller cricket bat manufacturers cannot pay the premium sponsorship payments required for these internationally recognised players to use their bats. However, many smaller cricket manufacturers make cricket bats for pro players, which are then stickered up by the brands they endorse. 

Supply of English willow: In England there are only a small amount of timber merchants dealing in English willow. A large proportion of English willow is sent to India and Pakistan for cricket bats to be made there.

Storm damaged willow: High winds cause the willow fibres to fracture, which causes the bats to snap. This can usually be spotted in the manufacturing process although this is not always possible.

Cost of raw materials: The price of English willow increases every year, which has a huge impact on authentic cricket bat manufacturers.

Cricket Bat Factory: There are a wide range of running costs involved including machinery, tools, workforce, production costs and maintenance.

Limited workforce: There are a limited number of junior bat makers learning the trade.

Overseas competition: Labour force costs in counties where cricket bat making is outsourced, is cheaper than in the UK.