Sunil Kumar, an excellent batmaker from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, is among several master artisans drawn to Sangam as manufacturers in this south Kashmir town have seen a boom in orders ahead of the Cricket World Cup, which begins next week.
While sales of Kashmir willow bats increase prior to every multilateral event organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC), orders this year have been greater because India is hosting the event after a 12-year hiatus. “With the Cricket World Cup approaching, the demand for bats has risen so much that we are not able to complete all the orders,” Kumar stated.
While more work means more money, Kumar is pleased that his bats will be used in international cricket.
“I have 20 years of experience as a batmaker.” “I’ve made bats for players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo,” Kumar explained.
According to Fawzul Kabir, a representative for the Cricket Bat Manufacturers’ Association of Kashmir, demand for Kashmir willow bats has steadily climbed over the last two years since the ICC approved their usage in international events.
“We’ve been making cricket bats for 102 years but had no national or international recognition until 2021.” After receiving ICC clearance, our bats debuted in several international events, and demand has skyrocketed,” said Kabir, who produces bats under the GR8 Sports brand.
Kabir claimed that Kashmir meets 80% of the world’s demand for cricket bats.
“With the World Cup just around the corner, and India hosting it, demand has skyrocketed.” We produce roughly three million bats per year, but the demand this month and the preceding month was 15 times higher. “We delivered approximately three to four million bats in two months,” he said.
From “zero exports” until 2021, more than 1.85 lakh bats from Kashmir have been exported to various countries, according to Kabir.
“We are providing the world with a better alternative in the form of Kashmir willow, and at a lower cost.” Quality-wise, if you look at our bat, the biggest six in the (T20) World Cup was struck by a player using our bat,” he said, adding that at least 17 players will use his company’s bats during this World Cup.
Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh, a worker at a bat manufacturing plant, said the workers here are looking forward to the World Cup as their pay rise.
“We always look forward to the World Cup because our workload doubles and our pay doubles.” “We work day and night during these days because it is our source of income,” he explained.
Sheikh claims that buyers boost their orders three to four times during the World Cup.
“Those who usually order 1,000 bats ask for 3,000 to 4,000 bats now,” he stated.
Omer Alam, a former Jammu and Kashmir Ranji Trophy player, said the effort in upgrading the quality of Kashmir willow bats is now paying off.
“The investors are doing an excellent job. “Kashmiri manufacturers are providing bats to both young and experienced players,” Alam explained.
He believes that Kashmir willow bats are superior to English willow bats due to their durability.
“The Kashmir (willow) bats are much cheaper and last much longer.” English willow bats are only utilized for one season, whereas Kashmir willow bats survive two to three… We’ve seen international players use these bats, and they look promising,” he adds.