I got to visit the Gunn & Moore factory, which is situated near Trent Bridge on Wednesday. There’s lots of sawdust, piles and piles of bats in various stages of production.
There’s lumps of wood everywhere.
A few of the Proteas players were there to check out how their bats were made and in the case of Vernon Philander, pick up a few “new sticks”.
Some cricketers can be really picky about their bats, some are quite intimate - there are stories about players sleeping with their bats, that’s weird. Neil McKenzie, a G&M client in his playing days, went through a period where superstition dictated he tape his bat to the ceiling.
Philander’s not quite so mad, but he is quite specific about what type of bat he wants. He spent a large chunk of time in conversation with an elderly gentleman called Kevin Stimpson, who’s been in the employ of G&M for 43 years.
Stimpson, is a bat maker's bat maker. One of Stimpson’s colleagues said he could craft a bat from a log the old fashioned way.
Philander had an issue with his handle that he wanted sorted - a bit thicker near the shoulder it seemed. He went through a few different handles before eventually settling on one that was attached to an old G&M ‘Maestro’ that looked like it belonged to a small child somewhere in the 1990s.
Stimpson listened intently, shook his head a couple of times and then reckoned he was right to produce what Philander wanted.
“Ya, he went through a few and then settled on this shape,” Stimpson explained, pointing to one of Philander’s old bats, which the player himself had modified using what appeared to be a combination of plaster of paris and band aid.
Where Philander seemed interested in the finer details - he checked weight and asked for a few millimetres to be shaved off the back of his bat - I’m going to put myself in the Quinton de Kock category of bat choosing.
When asked what he looked for when he chose a bat, De Kock replied: “There are nice bats, nice shapes, but a bat’s a bat, wood’s wood, it doesn’t matter. Others have their preferences. I take the bat that’s been given to me. I’m not finicky.”
Precisely. In the couple of social games, I’ve played recently, that’s exactly how I’ve chosen the bat I’d use. Of course, I have nowhere near the kind of talent De Kock has, but it was cool to know there are players out there for whom it’s not a big deal what the specifics are of their equipment - wood’s wood, a bat’s a bat.