he demand for the Kashmir-based willow bat brand ‘GR8’ has surged in the international market in the midst of the ongoing T20 World Cup which is hosted by Australia this year, manufacturers say.

Several Kashmir-based bat manufacturers claim that they are getting positive responses from consumers across the world more specifically after UAE batter Junaid Sidique hit the longest six of 109 meters against Sri Lanka using Kashmir manufactured willow bat ‘GR8’.

Fawzul Kabir, the owner of a Sangam-based bat manufacturing factory, that uses the brand ‘GR8’ Sport, claims that there is a rise in demand for Kashmir-made willow bats in the international market. He said more importers from different countries had ordered their consignments after the longest six in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

As per his figures, 36 international players – from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – are currently using Kashmir willow bats.

Making its debut in 2021, the GR8 Sports bat was used by three Oman players last year. But, in the current year, four UAE players – Junaid Sidique, Zahoor Khan, Kashif Daud and Fahad Nawaz – used the ‘GR8’ bat in the T20 World cup.

Kabir said they have received orders in thousands from the international market. “First we received messages from the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. Soon after their orders, we dispatched our consignments to the concerned importers from various countries,” he claims.

He said it took him around 10 years to get GR8 Sports (Willow Bat) registered with the International Cricket Council (ICC) – on 7 July 2021.

President of Cricket Bat Manufacturer Association and Owner Alfa & Co. Halamula Sangam, Fayaz Ahmad Dar told Rising Kashmir that around 20 factory owners export Kashmir willow bats to the international market.

“The recent use of the Kashmir willow bat in the world cup has definitely surged the demand for our bats in the domestic as well as international market,” he said.

Dar said around 2 lakh people directly or indirectly earn their livelihood through this industry.  He demanded that willow saplings must be planted as old plants get cut, thus leading to a decline in the number of willow plants.

“Besides the supply of canes (handle of bat), which is made up of bamboo wood and imported from Malaysia and Singapore, decreases at times and creates problems for bat makers,” Dar said, adding, “The government must ensure availability of bat handle wood throughout the year as its shortage forces consumers to cancel their orders thus creating financial problems for us.”

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