Srinagar: In the industrial hub of Sangam in south Kashmir 29- year-old Fawzul Kabir has become a popular name.
From elderly to children, everyone encourages, visits Kabir’s unit to greet him for his efforts in popularising local cricket bat industry at international level.
Kabir, an MBA pass out from Islamic University of Science and Technology, has become the first cricket bat manufacturer from Kashmir whose cricket bats and sports kits have been used by any international cricketer.
Recently his company made GR8 Sports cricket bats and kits have been used by few of the players from Oman national cricket team in the ongoing World T20 cup held at Dubia.
This is for the first time in the cricket history that Kashmir made cricket bats were used in such a big event
“I am elated that my company made cricket bats and kits have been used by Omani players in T20 world cup matches. This is just the beginning and I am hopeful to take this industry to new heights in future,” Kabir told The Biz Reporter.
Omani cricket players including Naseem Khushi , Bilal Khan and many others were seen batting with GR8 sports cricket bats and donning kits in the T20 matches played by the team so far.
Kabir’s cricket bat manufacturing unit is one among the factories in Sangam, which have been associated with this trade for generations.
“Our company was established in 1974 and would supply cricket bats to various states. Now we have taken an initiative to give a new lease of life to this industry, which is in dire need of name and fame,” he said.
Like most of the cricket bat units, earlier Kabir too has been supplying raw material to units from other states without getting the brand name mentioned in the finished product.
“For many years we have been supplying raw material to Jalandhar based companies, which earned reputation at international level,” he said.
Kabir is of the opinion that Kashmir willow is far more superior than English willow, the cricket bats of which are used by international cricketers.
“Kashmiri willow trees are male and are best suitable for cricket. They have an advantage of being rigid and not brittle unlike English willow. We have seasoned our cricket bats to maintain their low weight and moisture from 8-12per cent ,” he said.
Kabir said his effort has inspired other local unit holders to “dream bigger” for promoting this industry.
The J&K administration is working hard to get geographic indication (GI) certification for Kashmir willow bats, which has a huge demand in the national and international market.
Kashmir valley is the only place in the country where willow trees are grown. But despite that, the sports industry is controlled by traders in Punjab and Meerut. Ironically no cricketer has ever used Kashmiri willow bats in any international tourney, which has demoralized the bat makers of the valley.