27 Aug Why do we make bats? Part 2
Following on from the final thought of “Why do we make bats? Part 1” that asked “Why do we bother?” when considering the possibility of having a brand without needing to make the bats you’re selling. The next part in answering this question was highlighted during a recent visit from a father and son who wished to learn a little bit about bat making. Whilst discussing various aspects of the industry we got onto the subject of how long bats last, something that I’ve touched on previously. In truth, the life expectancy of a cricket bat can be determined be many factors but the two it seemed were most important were the material and care.
Often you’ll see a guideline of approximately 1000 runs as the way of quantifying the durability of your cricket bat. However this is only ever a loose measure and the only way to have a better guarantee of a long and happy life with your new beloved is to care for it. The time we spend with our bats in the nets counts towards this “1000 run” benchmark, perhaps more so due to the aggressive approach many people take during nets sessions.
This leads into the relationship between Craftsman and Batsman. As we were chatting I continued to waffle on about how I couldn’t understand why people didn’t want to make their own bats when it was so enjoyable. That the desire to care for the bat I take during the making process is hopefully appreciated and then transferred to the customer during its lifetime with them. It’s perhaps wishful thinking to hope this is the case given what we’ve already covered in “The idea of Utility and the Disposable Nature of a Cricket Bat”. However conveying that passion the craftsman has for their creation is the most powerful way to influence the consumer’s view of Hand Crafted Cricket Bats.
Whilst the brand can be confident in the cricket bat they sell in the same way a craftsman can, in other words “it’s good enough to be sold under our brand”. The craftsman can be confident of the cricket bat beyond that because they have experienced its inception and as a result, like any craftsman, they are passing on a piece of work that represents them and not potentially someone else.
You’ll often see similar shapes available from various suppliers. The obvious reasons could be that many of them agree that there are certain things that make a good cricket bat. This is certainly true, you wouldn’t see the consistency in profile and shape if anything and everything worked and as a friend has often remarked “there’s only so much you can do with a rectangular piece of wood”. The limitations of the material necessitate a certain level of repetition.
Often the similarities in shape are a fair refection of what’s popular with the consumer this season. Having said this, there’s a certain level of tradition that permeates the cricket bat industry, not only because the laws of the game dictate it but also because we cricketers don’t take kindly to change. My favourite bat makers are the ones who stick to what they know works, and in doing so don’t go along with major trends. The other bat makers I love are the creative individuals who at least try something new perhaps knowing it will polarise opinion.
However given that we are talking about “Why do we bother?” we should highlight that this repetition is also a result of brands not making their own bats and outsourcing the work to a select few. This then opens up the world of rebranding, relabelling, and machine made cricket bats, and this is where Part 3 will begin.