Cricket bats of Kashmir | Wind in the willow

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The Kashmir willow, long considered an inferior bat to its English counterpart, has finally hit the sweet spot. But a shortage of willow trees in the valley threatens to undo that hard-earned recognition

BATTING HIGHS: Clefts stacked up for drying at a bat manufacturing unit in Awantipora. (Photographs by Abid Bhat)

Moazum Mohammad

Halmulla,ISSUE DATE: Sep 18, 2023 | UPDATED: Sep 14, 2023 14:05 IST

Fawzul Kabeer looks a tad overwhelmed, guiding workers at his cricket bat manufacturing unit at Halmulla in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, as they fine-tune the ones ready for despatch. “We have to ready 300 cricket bats for 20 international players in this World Cup. Half the order is complete but we are working late into the evenings to get the rest ready,” says Kabeer, whose unit is the only one in the Valley to meet ICC (International Cricket Council) specifications for cricket bats. Cricketers from three teams—Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan—will be playing the ICC one-day international cricket World Cup in October with bats produced by his company, which goes by the modish name GR8 Sports. “It is a proud moment for our industry,” says Kabeer. “For the first time, bats from our unit will be used in an ODI World Cup. It will end the monopoly of the English willow.”

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