CHRISTMAS OFFER 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

In 1972, a hoard of ancient silver coins was discovered in Prestwich. These days, they’re hoping to strike gold with an unbeatable mix of community, creativity and independent shops but for one craftsperson, silver is still the way to go.

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Pendle Hill is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lancashire and you can enjoy the beautiful countryside, spectacular views and fascinating from a number of starting points in the Ribble Valley.

Read more
Pendle Hill Ribble Valley Walks
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our walks expert John Lenehan plots a scenic course that also provides a little Lancashire history.

Read more

Steps are being taken to bridge the divides that have grown between communities and made Blackburn one of the most segregated towns in the country.

Read more
Blackburn
Monday, October 8, 2018

With the countryside turning stunning shades of red and gold, this is probably the best time to pull on your boots and go for a heavenly hike.

Read more
Lake District Walks Autumn

There is always something surprising in this old Lancashire village which attracts visitors from across the world

Read more
Cartmel
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Many youngsters their age are content to play with their toys, but a Bowness brother and sister are happiest in their walking boots.

Read more
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Britain’s biggest independent flower show attracts huge crowds and the admiration of BBC celebrities

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When it was announced The Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood was to be the recipient of BBC North West Garden created for The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tatton Flower Show, there were cheers all round.

Read more
Friday, September 21, 2018

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more
Clitheroe
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Lytham
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

This varied selection of walks are all within ten miles of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Read more
Arnside Silverdale

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

Property Search