Running out of bats, Brazil is making theirs
Reuters, POCOS DE CALDAS, Brazil
When Brazil’s rapidly growing cricket program threatened to run out of bats, the solution was both easier and more difficult than anyone imagined: make your own.
Matt Featherstone, a former amateur cricketer from England who is president of Cricket Brazil, approached carpenter Luiz Roberto Francisco with a traditional English willow bat and asked if he had the wood or the expertise to make something similar.
Francisco, who used to make chairs and cabinets from medium density fibreboard, was at first baffled.
âI almost gave up several times. It’s really complicated, âhe said. âWe need time, a lot of patience. There are many obstacles: it is the handle, the cut, the wood, the machining. It’s not a coin that you put in the lathe and turn it, and then it’s over.
The finished bats are in the hands of young cricketers in Pocos de Caldas, a small town in central Brazil.
Francisco turned his workshop into a bat factory, making bats from pine, cedar, eucalyptus and other woods.
It has so far produced 80 bats and plans to increase production after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pocos de Caldas has more than 5,000 young people learning cricket in the city’s 50 schools, playing mainly in T10 and T20 formats.
Since cricketer missionary Featherstone moved there 21 years ago, he has convinced the mayor to build two training centers with nets and bowling machines, where young players can learn.
The sport has grown tremendously in recent years – especially among female players – and Brazil’s women’s teams have won four of the last five South American championships.
In the past, generous donations of sticks, pads and balls recycled from professional games and sent by Lord’s Taverners, a leading cricket charity in the UK, have brought supplies to the Brazilians.
With more and more young people getting to know yorkers, squarewalks and silly mid-offs – not to mention a pandemic that put an end to travel – a longer-term solution was needed.
âIt was good to bring 15, 20 or 30 bats to Brazil for a limited number of people playing cricket,â said Featherstone. âNow we have more than 5,000 young people in the development program with the idea – as soon as COVID-19 goes away – to increase to 33,000. It will be impossible to bring bats or equipment for it. abroad, so we have to get it here. So why not start our own cricket bat factory?
Imported Willow Bats would still be used by top players, but kids and youth teams would increasingly use Francisco’s Bats to hone their skills, one of which has come to be known as of âBrazilian Shot,â an innovative initiative involving a 270 degree pivot to respond to a leg side delivery, which has become a Brazilian specialty.
However, research is underway for a wood that would rival or even surpass the English willow, and Featherstone is optimistic that a sustainable option can be found in Brazil, a nation with more tree species than anywhere else on the planet.
âI think we’ll find something as good as the English willow,â he says.
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