Good Willow Hunting: J&K 'bats' For India
4 January 2006
The Times of India
Anantnag: Every time there is an India-Pakistan match and the boys in blue win, there is one village in Kashmir that is elated. This, however, has more to do with economy than patriotism. It won't be any different when the two countries face each other on the cricket field for a series beginning on January 13. Though Anantnag district falls in south Kashmir, a hotbed of terrorism, misfortune somehow skirted the bat-making industry here. In this bat-making cluster, 40 km from Srinagar, the willow is churned out with great speed and in huge numbers. And it goes up after every match that India clinches. Those in the business maintain sales go up because of a positive 'cricket- playing atmosphere' in the country. There is euphoria among kids and youngsters who draw inspiration from role models like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. There is a sudden surge in enthusiasm for cricket. However, 'the situation flips when India loses,' says Jahangir Ahmad, who runs Good Luck Sports factory, a unit that was set up by his grandfather along the Srinagar-Anantnag highway. 'It was a bad time this year after India lost the ODI series to Pakistan in March-April. Our bats go to Indian states and Jalandhar and Bombay are the largest buyers. But the sale went down that time and it hit us badly,' adds Jahangir. There are over 300 families, stretching across Anantnag district, which are solely dependent on the bat- making industry. Hundred factories, of which 30 are big, sustain scores of labourers who come from inside and outside the state.