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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Adoring Cricket bats ~ the हाथ का बना collection : Hail Prashant !!

Cricket enthralls us – there is so much – the most entertaining IPL – debut test of Ireland Vs Pak;  SA women playing Bangla .. .. there is this single equipment adored and capable of destruction - What remains in your mind and thought ! - Whether it is  the straight drive of Sunil Gavaskar or the classic drive of Sachin Tendulkar  - perhaps is an indicator of your age ! – the actual subject matter common to both the is the ‘willow’ – the Cricket bat !
Photo taken from web ~ credits unknown

these are also cricket bats 

Do you remember 1983 when Kapil Devils lifted the Prudential World Cup ? ~ here is an interesting story.  At Royal Turnbridge Wells, a town in West Kent, about 31 miles south east of Central London bordering East Sussex,  Kapil scored a magnificent unbeaten  175 - against Zimbabweans lifting the Indians from 17/5. He reportedly played with a Slazenger V12 bat. That bat was handed to Krish Srikkanth who inturn gave it to his Ranji mate – CS Suresh Kumar. Suresh lived in TP Koil Street, Triplicane and we made a beeline to his house, seeing the bat and touching it with awe inspiration and regard. Cricket bats are objects of passion and reverence !!

For more than 120 years of existence in International cricket,  bat  has undergone lots of changes – perhaps there has not been significant change in the grip, the quality of willow but perceived quality and weight have.  Present day bats held by star batsmen display not manufacturers’ names but mostly the sponsors on the bats. There are many and varied manufacturers such as : Symonds, Slazenger, Gunn & Moore, Gray Nichols, Puma, BDM, MRF and more….. those days – there were oil and non-oil bats -there were stories of seasoning and oiling the oil bats. At one point time, there were reports that Sunil Gavaskar’s bat had some small pint holes on the back side of the bat which aided him when he drove the ball. The bats of English willow were expertly pressed and there would be procedures of oiling with linseed oil and knocking them over.

For the not so well informed, bats are made of willow wood, shaped in a regular way consisting of a long handle wedged into the wood. The flat side is used to hit the ball, the point of widening into the blade is known as shoulder and bottom as toe. The wood is tough and shock resistant and has a spring design at handle. Modern bats are usually machine made, the shape of bats have remained in the present form for too long.  Those days Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Sandip Patil used heavier bats  – now there are many who wield the willow like a bludgeon, especially in T20 (read IPL) – resultantly, even a shot not hit in the sweet spot disappears into the crowd, making the life of spinners miserable.

People may madly follow their heroes making great shots – bat coming down poetically and ball disappearing much to the sorrow of poor bowlers.  In the melee, one might only count the runs ~ yet there are people who are daringly different. 

I consider myself fortunate to have known and worked briefly with  Mr Prashant Singh, an exuberant charming motivating person.   The India Art Investment Company Private Limited, established in 2013 are engaged in promoting, preserving and empowering the rural artisans of india by working with them to present their works in a more Contemporary way with keeping the rustic and natural touch rural india.

The product featured here is ‘the most sought after Cricket Bat’ nay, not the one Cricket stars of Indian Premier League use – there are of a different elite league branded ‘Haath ka Bana’ … for those travelling around India would well know the artisans proudly claiming  साहेब यह काम मेरे हाथ का बना है .”  India Art Investment Company’s tag line is ‘ preserving culture - creating livelihood’.  True to their mission they are working with over 750 artisan families across india - which translate into - approximately 3000 artisans. 

One of their noble initiatives is making  folk art on cricket bat, a novel innovative thought indeed.  The game of Cricket is a religion in India, played at nook and corner, followed more interestingly in remotest of places, by people cutting across age or any other barrier.  At a time when  many art forms are on the verge of extinction, the innovative thinking of Prashant would do well to raise their level to greater heights making them more sought after through the ubiquitous Cricket bat.  Let us proudly lift the bat and say ‘hath ka bana’ [more specifically from the hand of exquisite artisans]

Hail Prashant and his tribe .. and here some photos of this interesting subject matter – the bats made by artisans and promoted by India Art Investment.

With great regards – S. Sampathkumar.
15th May 2018.

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