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World Cup T20: Big Achievement For India as Kashmiri Bats Make Debut in The Tournament

Sugandh Bhatnagar
Sugandh Bhatnagar
Oman's Wicketkeeper-Batsman Naseem

It’s all over for Team India at the World Cup T20 2021 as New-Zealand Beat Afghanistan yesterday. But the Kashmiri Willow bats are still being used by International players in the tournament. 

Kashmir willow bats are as good as English willows due to the hard material and less moisture, affordability, durability and quality, Kashmir is the second largest exporter of cricket bats after England. Lack of willow plantation drive has made visible crisis for this industry in future. 

Willow bats manufactured in Kashmir are being used by international cricket players in mega-events like the T20 World Cup. Cricket legends like Sir Vivian Richards, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar have used Kashmir willow bat before. The 7-km stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is one of only two places in the world where professional willow bats are made. Apart The other one is in England. 

A historic day for the bat manufacturing fraternity in Kashmir 

(ICC) Oman players of the T20 Cricket World Cup are using bats made in Kashmir. The bat is manufactured by Kashmir-based company GR8 Sports. Omani players including Bilal Khan, Kalimullah and wicketkeeper-batsman Naseem Khushi had agreed to use bats and other equipment manufactured in his unit. 

How is a Bat made?

The willow wood is cut into blocks called clews and left in heaps to dry in the sun for six months. Once ready for use, the wood is chiselled, hammered and polished into a finished product by workers. It takes 15-20 years for a willow tree to mature and produce maximum number of clefts. He said that these days, high density willow trees are also planted which matures within 7-8 years. In addition, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu (SCUST-Kashmir) has also identified and selected four promising clones of willow. 

Kashmir is the second-largest exporter of cricket bats after England 

In 1918, the British first brought a willow tree to Kashmir and planted it in the valley. The history of cricket bat making in Kashmir dates back to the 19th century when Allah Baksh, a Pakistani industrialist, established his sub-unit at HalmullaBijbehara for further finishing at Selkot to convert willow logs into clefts. 

Considering giving GI tag for bat made in Kashmir 

Inconsistent power supply means that manufacturers have to use diesel generators, which adds to the cost. It is not just the power crisis that is causing huge losses to bat making business, but the lack of willow plantation drive in the region is showing a future crisis for this industry. Our repeated pleas to the government to plant willow trees on the state's land have not materialized.

The extinction of willow will happen within 5-6 years if rapid plantation drive is not started immediately in the area. 

According to a report, the cricket bat industry in Kashmir has suffered a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore in the last three years. Despite these challenges, the government is considering a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for cricket bats made from Kashmir willow to boost the bat industry in the Valley. 

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