We are getting an increased number of enquiries from people wishing to make their own cricket bat. It is a common belief that the shaping of wood is all that is required. Indeed, shaping is an important part of balance and weight, however, there is much more to crafting a bat suitable for match play than shape alone. Specialist tools and skills are necessary to craft a bat suitable for use, but what is most restrictive, is access to the right type of willow.
There has been a number of attempts to offer short courses in bat making, quick introductions to a craft that takes many years to master. In an ideal situation, an accredited course (through recognised education institutes) would grow the craft, improve professional practices and combat the growing importation of mass produced bats that are passed off as Australian made.
Unfortunately, the limit of supply of willow from the merchants to a small few has encouraged this practice and prevented the growth and healthy competition among genuine makers.
So when you ask to purchase willow clefts, or think about making a bat for a school project, we are actually unable to make available raw willow clefts as a condition placed on us by our supplier. However, we are able to supply a partmade bat which is suitable for shaping and finishing. Basically, a partmade is a raw cleft that has been machined, pressed and handle fitted. Supply will be subject to availability, and is listed online as a partmade bat.
Maybe in the not so distant future, the craft can be grown through the willow merchants loosening total control over the market and allowing the on-selling of clefts, and a recognised education institution offering a structured course that maintains quality and integrity in the craft continuing.