Doing proud to the willow bat industry in J&K, Kashmir-made bats have made it to the ICC T20 World Cup.
Some players of the Oman cricket team used Kashmiri bats in their T20 World Cup fixture.
Although the local bat industry has been there for decades, this is the first time that any international player has used a Kashmir-made willow bat.
Story behind Kashmir willow bat
Fawzul Kabeer, an MBA graduate from the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Awantipora, in Anantnag district said the bats used by the Oman cricket team were manufactured at his factory and that he had to do a lot of hard work to realise his dream.
These bats are manufactured under the brand label GR8 Sports, the industrial unit located in Halmulla Sangam area of Anantnag.
Kabeer, who owns the GR8 Sports firm from his late father, said the manufacturing unit was founded in 1974.
"To begin with, we prepared only the raw material which was then shipped to Jalandhar, Meerut, and other places, where the bats were manufactured and sold under the brand names of the firms who manufactured the fine product.
"This was not a profitable venture, besides the local bar industry remained in oblivion that way.
"We started producing the finished bats at our unit.
"Till then the bat of Kashmir had no recognition, as we were lacking the knowledge about how to take our bat to international level. We had no expertise and technique due to which Kashmir willow bats were being sold unbranded.
"To get our brand recognised, we followed all the rules framed by the International Cricket Council and managed to find some craftsmen whom we recruited into our firm.
"In addition to this, we held discussions with professional craftsmen on how to ensure a unique style of bat making in this industry", he said.
Mohammad Naseem Khushi and Bilal Khan of Oman cricket team have played International fixtures with the bats produced by GR8 Sports.
According to Kabeer, Kashmir willow is a 'male variant' of bat wood that has the strength to bear things in a unique way unlike the English willow which is a female variant'.
There are more than 300 bat manufacturing units in South Kashmir Anantnag district. The international recognition earned by GR8 Sports is an inspiration for all of them to make World quality cricket bats that can compete with the best in the market.