*Now Kashmir Willow bats will feature in ODI World Cup*
*17 cricketers from six nations to play with bats from the valley*
Anantnag, Jun 16 (KNO): The demand for Kashmir Willow bats has increased in the global markets after the international cricket players from Oman and UAE used them in the T20 World Cups. Now, around 17 more players from six cricketing nations have got bats made from Kashmiri Willow for the ODI World Cup 2023 scheduled to be held in India this October.
The people associated with this industry while talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) expressed happiness that more countries have started using Kashmiri Willow bats in the professional game. They expect more teams to procure the bats in the future.
There are around 400 cricket bat manufacturing units in the industrial area from Sangam to Awantipora in south Kashmir and the bats of one unit (GR8 Sports) have reached the international stage, they said.
Fawzul Kabir, a 30-year-old MBA graduate from the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Awantipora, who is pursuing PhD from the DCU in Ireland, told KNO that after hectic efforts, a few players from Oman and UAE played with Kashmiri bats and now 17 more players from six nations have agreed to play with their bats. The bats are being manufactured at the GR8 Sports industry in Halmulla Sangam area of Anantnag – the first and only ICC-approved brand of J&K till date, he said, adding that UAE’s star cricketer Junaid Siddiqui was able to hit the biggest 6 of the ICC T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka in Australia last year using a Kashmir Willow Bat of GR8 Sports.
Kabir, who is the owner of this unit which his late father started in 1974, said the demand for his Kashmiri bats has increased in the international markets. We are in contact with more cricketing nations and are hopeful in the coming time all cricketing nations will play with Kashmiri bats, he said.
Fawzul informed that players going to play with Kashmiri bats are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, West Indies, UAE and Oman. The number of countries playing with Kashmiri bats is increasing every year and our aim is that players from top cricketing nations must play with our bats, he said.
“We have already sent consignments to around two dozen countries and many orders are also in the queue,” he said, adding, “This is just the beginning for us and we are hopeful very soon that famous international players will play with our bats.”
Kashmiri bats have emerged as tough competitors to English willow bats as we are the only ones who can produce these bats at a much less rate than what English willow costs, he added.
Now our aim is that prolific players like Virat Kohli, Babar Azam and others should play with our Kashmir-made bats, he expressed.
Kabir further said that earlier they were preparing here only white-label goods or raw material of bats which was then sent to Jalandhar, Meerut and other cities where they were using their own brand and selling them to international players.
“Now, we are preparing bats here only and it is the first time that our manufacturing has reached the ODI World Cup as the last players played with Kashmiri bats in T20 World Cup,” Kabir said—(KNO)