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Bat Making with Lachlan Fisher

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Photos by Ben Liney www.benliney.com (all rights reserved)

For my last birthday, family and friends chipped in for an experience of learning how to make my own cricket bat with Lachlan Fisher at his Williamstown Road workshop in Footscray.

Not only is Lachlan a master bat maker but he stands in a unique tradition as a grower of Australian willow.

The best quality cricket bats have traditionally been made only of top grade willow grown in England’s ideal climate and conditions.  For a period from the early 1900’s however, RM Crockett & Sons grew willow on Shepherds Flat in Daylesford, Victoria from which they made bats at a factory in Charles Street, Seddon; just around the corner from where Fisher is now based.

These Australian bats were used by players of the stature of Linsday Hassett, Peter Burge and Norm O’Neil, who promoted the ubiquitous ‘Dynamaster’ of the late 1950’s-60’s.

In 2003-4, Gideon Haigh wrote of the rise and eventual fall of the Daylesford plantation and of the family business through corporate takeover which saw an end to cricket bat production from Australian willow.  He concluded…

“…But thirty years after Crockett’s felling, shoots are emerging from the undergrowth.  When independent bat manafacturer Lachlan Fisher set out his stall in 1989 after working for Maddocks Sports, his interest in the Crockett story was kindled by meeting Harry Preston, a veteran of the old firm and a staunch advocate of the merits of Australian willow. Like all Australian batmakers, Fisher is reliant on imported raw materials; Preston inspired him to open a nursery in Dayelsford selling willow cuttings to farmers, with the intent of buying back the trees when they matured. ‘In the South of Victoria, the dormancy period and growing season of the trees are very similar to those in England’ he says. ‘And the weight, the performance, the grain of the bats are little different.’

Preston never saw his dream come true.  He died in January 2003 of emphysema from a lifetime of inhaling cane dust while turning bat handles.  But Fisher will soon begin harvesting willow from a host of small plots around Victoria, mostly in Gippsland:  Each tree yields about twenty five clefts.  It may not be too long before traditional Australian steel is again reinforced by non traditional Australian wood.”   (ABC Cricket Book 2003-4)

Even since this was written, much has changed in our world and in cricket.

As we worked on the bat it was fascinating to be able to talk about what had happened to particular plantations since that time, given the variable climate and its effect upon the quality of the wood.  Beyond weather, the climate has of course been variable in many other ways; with the unprecedented high value of the Australian dollar; the rise and rise of the Indian economy (and cricket); and the shrinking of local demand, providing many challenges for the production of a truly Australian cricket bat.

Learning about such things made the experience of spending time with Lachlan all the more precious.  One becomes aware that there is a lot more behind any given ‘stick’ that one picks up when going out to bat.

Learning how to work the old tools (like the draw knife and spoke shaves) in order to make something ‘new’ works as a good description of what ‘Good Cricket All-round’s’ work of ‘re-creating the commons’ is all about.

Thanks to Rachael, Chris and Katherine for enabling some ‘beautiful connections’ through cricket and to Ben Liney for the beautiful pictures.

-Marcus

www.fisherbats.com.au

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The 2019 GABBA Test Road Trip Episode : Dragon Cricket Podcast

It’s almost a whole year since bushfires and COVID changed our world.  So on the eve of an AFL Grand Final at the GABBA (of all places!) we take you back before it all went awry and release some of the highlights of last years Odyssey to the Brisbane Australia vs. Pakistan Test match (Gabba-toir mauling!) We meet Aman in the taxi, then transfer to our old childhood cricketing mate from Melbourne , and now Brisbane based coffee entrepreneur and host, Marty.  We hear a long BLACKSTAR CAFE debrief of Day One exploring the connections between friendship, coffee and cricket.   We then jump to extended interviews at the ground with the Day 3 GABATROOPERS and trumpeters, highlighting the differences between Queenslanders and us Melbourne ‘Mexicans’,even before the pandemic began. Interspersed throughout with a selection crisis at home for the Barkly Street CC caused by our absence! Click here for  The 2019 Gabba Test Road Trip Episode.

OB Ellemor at Twenty20=40 Big Bash

Slideshow highlights of OB Ellemor at Marcus Curnow’s Twenty20=40 Big Birthday Bash. Cricket Willow, Shepherds Flat, Victoria, September 11, 2011.

Photos: Ben Liney, Rohit Khanna

Name: OB Ellemor

Nickname: O, The Big O, Obiwan

Song: Underdog by Sly and the Family Stone

Sunday Game 1:

Batting: 19 (3×4’s)

Bowling: 3 overs 0/10

Sunday Game 2:

Batting: Run Out 19 (1×4)

Bowling: …beautifully shaped out swingers with the damp ball!

Swerve with Merv! Dragon Cricket Podcast Episode 2

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Barkly Street legend Woodsy takes on Merv’s mo… and loses!

The Dragon Cricket Podcast is back for its second episode, seeking to rediscover the true spirit of Australian cricket one match and podcast at a time. This week we hear from Australian and western suburbs legend Merv Hughes, find out who the first player in our line-up of male identity legends. We get an update on all things Barkly Street from Dragon’s president Adda and get some advice from Brian ‘Trotter’ Baxter, a 71 yo opening bowler from Cornwall!  LISTEN HERE

 

The Dragon Cricket Podcast : A Park Cricket Odyssey

The Park Cricket Odyssey begins as the Barkly Street Cricket Club search to find the true Spirit of Cricket Australian Cricket that was so scandalously sandpapered away…

Meet the Dragon Podcasters ‘The Real Rev’ and ‘Captain Grizzly’ as they introduce the Barkly Street Uniting Dragons Cricket Club and the coming Park Cricket Odyssey that is season 2018/19. In this episode, we meet Dragon legends the Lallys, 750 game veteran Jeff Law and brand new Club Captain Tharanga ‘Not that ABBA Song’ Fernando as we attempt to recover the lost soul of Australian Cricket, one game and episode at a time.

Barkly Street Cricket Club’s pre-season begins with the naming of The Dragon Warrior; a new club captain who reminds us of an ABBA song!

Dragon Cricket Pic Grass

On Eric Liddell

Quotes about Eric Liddell whilst imprisoned at invading Japanese internment camp where he died aged 43 in 1941.
“Often in an evening I would see him bent over a chessboard or a model boat, or directing some sort of square dance – absorbed, weary and interested, pouring all of himself into this effort to capture the imagination of these penned-up youths. He was overflowing with good humour and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.”

His last words were “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to his God

Johnny Mullagh XI at Willowfest 2011

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Slide show and Gallery of pics from the Johnny Mullagh Squad at the Willowfest Australian Club Cricket Championships at Mildura 2011.

Another wonderful week of challenging cricket and fun as families came together to again ensure the spirit and story of the 1868 ‘First XI’ remains a ‘living heritage’.

Thanks to Aboriginal Community Justice Panel, Grampians Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group, Barengi Gadgin Land Council and Victorian Tank Services for their generous support.

Dragon Juniors at Renegades T20

The Dragon Juniors enjoyed their first visit to Etihad Stadium on December 22 for the inaugural Renegades T20 Match as part of their Club Membership Package.  The group included two Vietnamese, four Indians, a Filipino, and four Anglo-Aussies many of whom hadn’t been to a cricket match before.  Thanks to parents Bill Field, Darren Andrews and our new Good Cricket Allround intern for 2012 Jesse Schram.


Filming for GLoBALL Cricket Launch 2011

Had fun commentating and umpiring the Laneway Cricket local Derby headed up by Dirk Nannes for the Renegades and James Pattinson for the Stars. Julie Hunter was also present for the VicSpirit.  Great work Stephanie Newton from Cricket Victoria pulling it together and Ray Kuffer for umpiring.

-Marcus