Kashmir Bats Battle For Survival

5 March 2015
Kashmir Monitor
Firdous Hassan

Srinagar: During world cup seasons, Ali Muhammad Bhat's cricket bat factory would be seen abuzz with cricket lovers which fetched him money enough to hire dozens of employees. This world cup season he is idling at home and Bhat has not received even five percent of the customers of the previous world cup. 'All the bat manufacturers are going through the worst phase and the industry is running into losses. During world cups we were witnessing a good business and even some of the bat manufacturing units were not able to meet the demand,' he said. Turning nostalgic, Bhat said that during world cup season, they would export cricket bats to different states. 'We used to export cricket bats in trucks to different states like Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and many metropolitan cities,' he added. President Kashmir Bat Manufacturers Association Nazir Ahmad Salroo said that Kashmir's cricket bats during world cup tournament had a huge demand in different countries like India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Bangladesh. 'Kashmir cricket bats were competing with the English willow bats. We were receiving orders from different countries ahead of world cup tournament,' president, Kashmir Bat Manufacturers Association Nazir Ahmad Salroo He says that the recent flood fury has led to the huge destruction of Kashmir's famed cricket bat industry which they couldn't compensate during these months. 'As the floods were of high magnitude in south Kashmir where all these industries are situated, all of our stocks were destroyed by the floods. We have not made enough cricket bats as the demand is very low,' Salroo said. The cricket bat manufacturers predict the loss up to 75 percent to the bat industry this year. Apart from low market demand, the Cricket bat manufacturers are also skeptical of facing the dearth of raw material in coming years following the destruction of willow trees and stockpiles in recent floods. 'Damage to willow trees could equate to shortfall of millions of cricket bats in coming years. Even if we get a supply but the wood will be having black spots on it. Each willow tree takes 10 - 15 years to grow that could be later used for manufacturing cricket bats. We are likely face dearth of raw material in future,' Salroo added. The Kashmir despite having its bat industry has failed to establish a local brands while most of the bat manufacturers use stickers of international sports brands. 'People usually prefer international brands. Locals as well as the tourists purchase crickets bats which are of international sports brand like MRF, ADIDAS,' said one of the sports item dealer.Transport, it has been taken back from Naqash.