Why do we make bats? Part 1

During the dark, cold and unyielding winter months this is a question I know I’ve asked myself in a quiet moment. The natural light you so desperately need has faded faster than it arrived and your hands were never warm enough to hold the drawknife with any authority. But I and many others come back for more the next day. You may wonder why it took so long as the simple answer would be “Because there’s demand for them”, this would indeed be correct and concise. However it was a broader question aimed at an openly proud supporter of anything Hand Made and devilishly put forward knowing it would torment me.

I’ve often been asked “How did you get into that?”. It’s a question I’ve posed to every bat maker I’ve spoken to and the overwhelming theme in their answers was curiosity. Often there was an existing set of skills or passion that enticed them towards the craft of bat making. For me, I loved woodwork and played cricket, the woodworker in me looked a the cricket bat and wondered how it was made. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to others how rewarding learning a craft and being creative with your hands can be. It’s only when talking to other craftsmen that communicating what makes it so appealing has become easy. It’s not for the money, making cricket bats by hand is labour intensive, potentially very time consuming and takes decades to master. I doubt that many get into hand making cricket bats with the idea that there’s a fortune to be made, as the truth is there’s not.

One important factor to being interested in the craft of bat making, was my exposure to it. I really didn’t know it existed until I saw someone doing it and there was little I didn’t find appealing about it. But it wasn’t as though I immediately considered it a profession to pursue, it was mysterious craft that I could learn.

Perhaps the romantic idea of the craft is what entices us to pursue that curiosity. A grey bearded craftsman pottering away in his workshop on a lazy sunny afternoon. There are those that just feel compelled to learn how somethings made and those that go that step further and want to make it themselves. And like so many other bat makers it seems they started it with an air of curiosity, excited by the unknown and seduced by the allure of willow.

When chatting about bats and bat making to the general village cricketer it’s become worryingly apparent that there’s little information out there about the craft, how bats are made and who out there is hand making. Initially I wanted to satisfy my own curiosity but then as I grew to love bat making, I wished for more. It was the opportunity to be creative and satisfy that desire any like minded individual has to craft something with their hands.

At this point the answer to this question becomes difficult, I’ve previously had to rephrase the question to “Why have I chosen to learn the craft?”. This is because we have to entertain the other aspects of this question that look at the broader industry of bat making.

When the opportunity to have a brand without having to make your own bats is there, Why would we bother?

to be continued…