Bihar migrant workers set up cricket bat manufacturing unit
The workers are hoping to ply their bat-making skills back home in Bihar’s West Champaran district and make a living for themselves.
Bihar could be staring at a quiet cricket revolution because of reverse migration of a section of workers, who are skilled at making bats.
The workers, who have come back to their native state amid the easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were enforced from March 25 to contain the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, are hoping to ply their bat-making skills back home in Bihar’s West Champaran district and make a living for themselves.
They have honed their skills at Jammu & Kashmir’s bat-manufacturing units in Anantnag, Awantipora and Qazigund.
Around 10 migrant workers have set up a local unit at Sahodra village in West Champaran district, which is located about 280 kilometres north of Patna.
“There is no place as sweet home. Nothing can be more satisfying if you get to stay at your native place and also earn a living,” said Abulesh Ansari (30), of Parasauni village, who moulds logs of Poplar tree, whose wood is used for making exquisite cricket bats. “Making a bat is all about precision, which involves judgment, adjustment, and calculation all rolled into one. It’s also an art,” said Ansari, who learned the craft at a factory in Anantnag.
The homegrown factory was set up a month ago amid the pandemic and has churned out around 50 bats that have found instant buyers.
“The lightness and stroke-making are the major differentiators in the available assortment of bats that cost below Rs 1,000,” said Afroz Alam, a buyer.
“It’s difficult to scale up the volume because the production is still manual. We aim to sell each bat for Rs 800. West Champaran can emerge as a hub for making cricket bats because poplar tree, a basic ingredient, grows in abundance in the district,” said Dilshad Alam (29), who worked at a bat-making factory in Qazigund.
Fortunately, they found big logs of poplar trees that had uprooted due to monsoon rains. The workers believe that poplar is as good as English and Kashmiri willow to make bats.
However, the biggest deterrent is a lack of finance to give the fledgling unit a mechanised push.
“We used to make 12 bats a day in Kashmir. However, our work is at a low key because of the lack of mechanised equipment and the unavailability of dry wood because of the rainy season. But, the sector has the potential to grow in West Champaran district,” said Naushad Alam, another migrant worker.
The workers have also approached government officials for financial assistance. “We are satisfied with the bat samples. We will provide necessary financial aid to them,” said Raju Ranjan Shrivastava, circle officer (CO), Gaunaha block.