3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Caleb Grant - the Australian creating cricket bats in Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 July 2018

Caleb in action with one of his bats

Caleb in action with one of his bats

Archant

A young Australian who came to England to play professional cricket has settled in Nelson to make beautiful bats.

Selection of finished batsSelection of finished bats

Bowled over by the love of a Lancashire lass, Australian Caleb Grant is now batting for England. Or, to be more accurate, he is making bats for the English.

Caleb, who first came to England as an overseas professional for a North Yorkshire cricket club, hopped over the border and opened a workshop at Nelson Cricket Club, with only his dog, named Nelson in honour of his new home, for company.

‘I had completed an informal apprenticeship with a Yorkshire bat maker, so I did know what I was doing,’ laughs the 30-year-old, who has handmade bats for sale starting at £180. He also makes some special bespoke versions which are individually numbered and, of course, more expensive.

A psychologist might link his love of making bats to the time when, as a teenager in Melbourne, he found himself 50 dollars short for the bat that he really wanted and, plead as he might, the cash wasn’t forthcoming from the bank of mum and dad.

Caleb shaping a bat in his workshopCaleb shaping a bat in his workshop

‘I still hanker after that bat, although the particular brand is no longer manufactured. Maybe that’s why it gives me so much pleasure now to see people leave my workshop with their dream bat,’ says Caleb, who marries Colne seamstress Emily Mitchell next January.

Of course, before any bat can be made you first have to gather your willow and Caleb has a secret location where he goes to select the best. However, if his dream comes true, it won’t be long before he can just go to the bottom of his garden for it.

‘Lancashire has the right conditions for growing willow and, although they need to grow for at least ten years before any leather hits it, I’m a patient guy and I’m willing to wait for my own plantation,’ says Caleb, whose clients come from across the north of England and Wales.

The first thing Caleb does when making a bespoke bat is to take note of their physical characteristics – their weight, their build and how they like to hold a bat.

The blade taking shape in the workshopThe blade taking shape in the workshop

‘These things will determine features such as the weight and the most appropriate handle. I listen to them too, in order to find out how they like to play and what sort of shots are their favourite. Clients range from people who feel that a bespoke bat could give an extra edge to their game to parents who have decided to buy a bespoke bat as an 18th birthday present for their son or daughter.

‘Bespoke bats as gifts have become popular. Lots of people are given them as retirement presents with hope, I guess, of long lazy days of cricket practice ahead of them! One grandfather came along with his bat and his grandson. He had treasured it since he was a young man but his cricket days were now more pavilion-based. Deciding to pass it onto his grandson but finding it was too long, he asked me to re-fashion it for him so it had a new life in his descendant’s hands.’

Many people share that affection for their bat and that results in Caleb being asked to undertake repairs. ‘I can usually make bats good again but I do warn people to take notice of climate when storing bats over the winter – avoid a damp cellar or garage and certainly don’t expose it to rain. When I moved into this workshop, there was a small hole in the roof and the first thing I had to do was shin up there and repair it,’ says Caleb, who once had to mend a crack in a bat that had been pieced together with nails. Caleb has a couple of machines in his workshop, including a jig that he made with his dad but many of his tools have been handed down to him by his grandfather and father. He even has several rolling pins ‘borrowed’ from his mother, that he uses to give bats the linseed oil treatment.

‘This is my dream job, making cricket bats and talking cricket all day – even when people want to talk about things like the recent Australian ball tampering incident. Sure enough, that was a disgrace but you know the game of cricket is bigger than any one player or even any one team. It will take a lot more than that to stop people enjoying the sound of leather on willow.’


You can find out more about Caleb and his bats at www.grantcricket.com.

More from Out & About

00:00

From cyclists to star-gazers, Bowland is attracting more visitors. It’s Hetty Byrne’s job to ensure they have fun without harming the environment

Read more
Bowland

The town has shown a lot of bottle to bounce back from a national mocking. Now, its football team and its high street are on the up

Read more
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

People of all ages are doing their bit to ensure Croston retains its place as one of our favourite villages

Read more
Croston
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Get away from it all and hit the heights with these great (but challenging) Lakeland rounds

Read more
Lake District
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Pete Tasker has celebrated 30 years with the National Trust.

Read more
Beatrix Potter
Monday, August 6, 2018

A newly launched loyalty card means supporting local businesses is all the rage

Read more
Lytham
Thursday, August 2, 2018

After years of damaging peat extraction Lancashire’s mosslands are being restored. The Wildlife Trust campaigns manager Alan Wright visits two – Cadishead Moss and Little Woolden Moss in Salford

Read more
Monday, July 30, 2018

Ramsbottom may have become a property hotspot and a foodie destination in recent years, but thing that remains a constant is the wonderful walking landscape right on its doorstep.

Read more
Ramsbottom
Monday, July 23, 2018

Huge swathes of Lancashire countryside have been destroyed by fires which have wiped out whole ecosystems

Read more
Bolton
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Handmade and homegrown are the key to success at these Burscough businesses, writes Rebekka O’Grady

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Water vole numbers have plummeted in the last 10 years caused mainly by a 30 per cent decline in their habitats. The Carbon Landscape’s Katie Chambers goes on a search for these rare mammals.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Author and photographer Richard Barrett, who wrote ‘Cycling in the Lake District’ for the Kendal-based guidebook publisher, Cicerone, chooses his top 5 rides.

Read more
Lake District Cycling

From growing in the garden to fun at a festival, there’s a real buzz in this coastal town

Read more

A new generation of businesses are making the Lancashire town a destination in its own right

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Property Search