We receive our Salix Alba Caerulea (English Willow) from J.S. Wright & Sons Ltd. They supply over 90% of the world cricket bat market with bat willow and have done so for over the past century. This unique willow grows along the moist wetlands in and around Essex (England).
Our wood arrives in the form of clefts which has already been graded by our suppliers. In order to further ensure the consistency in the grading of the willow, we sometimes tend to regrade certain clefts based on the look of the grain, pick up as well as performance of the bat. It is important to understand that not all bats with the perfect grains will give the ultimate performance. Alternatively, bats that have slight blemishes (e.g. knots or butterfly willow) can sometimes offer really exceptional performance. That is why at D&P, we recommend that when a customer selects a cricket bat, the primary focus should be on the bats pick-up and response rather than too much attention given to the look of the grains.
This is the best blade that money can buy. There are no specific rules as to what makes a grade 1 blade, but it is generally accepted that the face should have at least four visible straight grains. There might be minimal heartwood (red coloured timber which comes from the centre of the tree). Although there might be the odd small knot on the edge or back, the playing area should be clean. It must be noted that these slight imperfections in the willow will not necessarily hinder performance. On average most Grade 1 bats have between 6-12 nice straight grains.
This is also another good quality blade. Occasionally there can be slightly more redwood, but again it won’t affect playing performance. There should be at least 4 straight grains on the face of the bat with maybe some blemishes, pin knots or “speck” available.
A highly popular value for money graded willow. There should be a minimum of 4 straight grains which may not always be perfectly straight. Again, this is purely cosmetic & has no bearing on the performance of the bat. Small knots or a little “butterfly” stain may be present with perhaps more prominent speck. With the right press and handcrafting, our batmaker will ensure that your Grade 3 bat will be optimised to give you maximum performance.
The Grade 4 blade will normally have over half of the bat coloured with redwood or have a butterfly stain. It can be bleached to make it look more aesthetically pleasing, but it will still play as well as the other grades. The butterfly stain normally symbolises that the willow is very strong and therefore should last slightly longer. There could also be more “speck”