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Watch NZH Local Focus: How to make a cricket bat

By Kaysha Brownlie

It's the quintessential sound of summer - the smack of leather on willow.

So just how does is that 'willow' created and what goes into a hand-made cricket bat?

Laver and Wood in Waipawa are world-class cricket bat manufacturers, with all their bats crafted by hand from a block of raw English Willow which is imported all the way to their Hawke's Bay workshop in Waipawa.

A handle is then fitted according to the customers own unique specifications, James Laver says.

"With these bats I've talked to the customer about what I'm going to be doing. I'll know a lot of information about that customer and what their cricketing background is like, and so I've already worked out the shape that I'm going to be making the bat into, so I'll just carve the shape into the bat."

Each bat is handmade, meaning it's literally crafted by hand - no templates, no machines.

It's an extremely sharp blade, one slip could be disastrous, but having made more than 30,000 bats, James Laver knows what he's doing.

"I've written the basic specification on the bat to make sure I stay on track. If you get it slightly wrong it just doesn't work."

They produce at least 1000 bats a year with process that can take mere hours.

"You sort of learn in stages. Effectively you never take it a step too far, effectively you learn not to make mistakes."

After lots of sanding, they bind the bat's handle to give it support. And lastly, once it's labelled, they take the bat and give it a whack, a mallet is used to "knock in" the bat, hardening the Willow and creating a surface the cricket ball will shoot off.

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- NZ Herald

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