Sangam (Jammu and Kashmir): Sep 16, 2012
This cricket bat manufacturing town in northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is abuzz with activity not because of any cricketing event but for the forthcoming Gujarat elections.
One lakh bats are being manufactured to be distributed in Gujarat with stickers of Swami Vivekananda pasted on them.
"A Meerut-based company, Hans Rubber, has placed orders for 'tennis ball' cricket bats with around half a dozen manufacturing units here. We believe the order has been placed by an NGO from Gujarat," Shakeel Ahmad of Front Line Bat Manufacturing Unit told PTI.
Ahmad said the manufacturers have been asked to paste stickers of Swami Vivekananda on the bats, which are slightly bigger in size than regular bats.
"The bats are slightly longer and wider. These cannot be used for play with regular leather cricket ball ... Only tennis balls or plastic balls can be used with these bats," he said.
An official of Hans Rubber said they outsourced the order as Kashmir willow is famous the world over.
Other bat manufacturers maintain that they are not aware of the identity of the company or person who has placed such a large order for these cricket bats, worth around Rs 2 crore, and would not dig much into it as their basic concern was to avail the business opportunity.
They said the order was placed with them by a regular client but admitted that volume of bats to be manufactured was "unusually" large.
"Bat manufacturing has seen a slump in recent years and this is a welcome business opportunity. Since the stickers have pictures of Swami Vivekananda on them, I think some NGO is using cricket as means of sending out his message," Bashir Ahmad of Good Luck Sports said.
The bat manufacturers generally have larger than usual orders ahead of any major international cricket event but the upcoming T20 World Cup has not translated into that promise yet.
"We do not have any major orders... Our business will depend on how Team India fares in Sri Lanka during the World Cup. Longer the team stays in the tournament, our business will be better. We will pray for a victory for the Men in Blue," said Ghulam Mohiuddin, another bat manufacturer.
Mohiuddin said the forthcoming bilateral series between India and Pakistan can also prove to be a boost for the bat making business.
"India-Pakistan series after four year is surely going to generate a lot of interest in both the countries and we hope to cash on it. Although it is going to be a short series, something is better than nothing," he added.