Estate Blog – Cricket Bat Willow 2019
When Joss Butler ran out Martin Guptill in a spectacular super-over so that England could become World Champions, the bats used by ICC could well have been grown on Brudenell Estates land at Deene Park near Corby.
Since the Estate obtained an unconditional felling licence in 2014, we have been supplying Gray Nicholls with the very best willow for the production of cricket equipment. A cultivar of the white willow, salix alba, var – caerulea, has been grown specifically for cricket equipment in several locations around the Estate.
The trees have been carefully selected for their size and suitability, with more willow being planted annually to allow for future generations to excel on the cricket pitch. Situated on the banks of the Willow Brook, a tributary of the River Nene, the name suggests that willow has grown here for hundreds of years. Willow trees need running water to grow (not too fast flowing or flooded ground) together with undisturbed access to grow upwards. A willow tree takes, on average, up to 18 – 22 years to become fully fledged before being cut down and transported to the Gray Nicholls factory in East Sussex. Each year, two members of the Brudenell Estate staff measure each of the suitable trees (using a special item for measuring each tree) for size as this will determine which of the trees could be suitable for chopping down and being made into a cricket bat. Generally you can get an average of three and a half cricket bat lengths from each tree.
How a Cricket Bat is made
The willow arrives at Gray Nicholls in Robertsbridge and is cut into roundels. The roundels are sealed and left to dry for a few days.
Each roundel has its bark stripped and is marked ready for splitting into clefts. A cleft in its roughest form is cut and ready for machining.
The handle is turned on a lathe to create the perfect shape. Each handle is then fitted into the cleft by hand.
Master Bat Makers ensure each bat is shaped to provide optimum balance, pick-up and performance. Bats are carefully sanded and buffed to give them their finished look and feel.
Each bat is then pressed, compressing the natural fibres enhancing the performance of each bat and providing the blade with its bow.