Cricket Bats Willows
World renowned Cricket Bats made from Willow trees grown in Milton Keynes
When you’re watching international cricket games do you often give much thought to how the bats were made? I bet you’d be surprised to learn that the bats used by players representing teams such as England and India were grown in Milton Keynes by The Parks Trust and produce in the UK by companies such as Kippax and Surridge.
How many willow trees are planted each year?
Each year we plant over 150 Willow trees across our 6,000 acres of parkland. These trees are grown as a commercial crop to be harvested when they reach their maturity which is around 20 – 25 years old or when their stem has reached its optimal diameter for producing cricket bats.
Why do you sell the timber?
Once felled, the timber is sold to manufacturers of cricket bats. The income helps ensure the longevity of our self-financing charity. We are the custodians of the parkland in Milton Keynes, and profits from this commercial crop allows us to keep maintaining and improving the parkland across the city.
Do you grow a special type of willow trees?
For over 30 years we have been growing a man-made strain of hybrid Willow that was derived from the White Willow (Salix alba). This is the only strain of cricket bat Willow and was originally created to grow the best timber quality for bat characteristics. This species of tree grows quickly to produce an even grain and a good weight, whilst also being strong and durable when made into bats.
When and how are the trees felled?
During October each year a selection of Willow trees are felled. The trees will be felled from the base as this maximises the useable timber. However due to the locations of some of the trees within our parkland, a safe dismantle is the only viable option. This involves an expert team to climb the trees and fell them from height. In this video we created in 2019 you can see this process.
Are all the parts of the felled trees used?
Once the trees have been cut into appropriate lengths, any remaining pieces of the trees are chipped. This leftover material is then used to resurface the bridleways and leisure routes throughout the woodlands and parks within our care. The chipped Willow is also used as a mulching material as Willow has good properties for this, and thus benefits other plants and trees.
How are the cricket bats made?
In 2019 we worked alongside Kippax Willow Limited who took the raw timber, some of which was made it into cricket bats. The rest was exported to India for bat production there. You can see Kippax’s manufacturing process in the video. Once the timber is delivered to the manufacturers, they start by turning the main stem of the tree into rounds. From here the rounds are split into clefts, these are then dried to 10% moisture, graded, waxed and stored before being worked by hand into recognisable bats.
These bats are then sold internationally and used by some of the top teams across the world.