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In Praise of the Willow

Date Added: April 28, 2009 12:50:48 PM
Author: Sunil Jajodia
Category: Shopping
Cricket bats are specialist pieces of equipment and require certain materials and skills to produce.  In order to produce a perfect bat, a specific kind of wood is required – this requirement is met by Salix Alba ‘Caerulea', also known as the cricket bat willow.  The White Willow (Salix Alba) gets its name from the surface of its leaves, which are covered with fine white hairs.  It is a deciduous tree native to Europe as well as central and western Asia, which can reach up to 30 meters in height.  The cricket bat willow (otherwise known as the English willow) is thought by some to be a hybrid between the white willow and the crack willow (Salix fragilis).  Salix Alba ‘Caerulea’ has slightly larger leaves than the white willow, at 10 – 11cm long and 1.5 – 2cm wide, which are also more blue green in colour. Willows have been used for numerous purposes throughout history.  Willow bark has been said to have pain relieving properties and has been mentioned as a remedy to ease aches, pains fever and even chills.  Hippocrates refers to its medicinal value as early as approximately 400BC, and it is mentioned for these properties in early texts from Egypt, Assyria and Sumer, as well as by Native American Indians.  The bark of the white willow does in fact contain salicin, which can be extracted to a crystalline form.  Salicin can be used to produce salicylic acid, which was the precursor to aspirin. Willow is also of use in the field of horticulture – the bark contains auxins(plant growth hormones) which can be extracted to promote the rooting of new cuttings.  New efforts in conservation and the environment have seen willows grown for biomass and biofuel.  In the UK and the US large scale projects have been set up, to make use of the willow’s fast growth and carbon mitigation potential. Willow is also known for a number of other traditional uses such as basket making and wattle and daub.  The nature of the wood means it lends itself to the manufacture of rope, fibre, paper and tannin.  As well as cricket bats, furniture, brooms, veneers and toys can be made from willow wood.  It is not really surprising that a tree with so many important uses to humans is widely referred to in literature, art and culture from a number of countries.      Although a number of ways in which people have traditionally used the willow are no longer widely used, cricket bats are still produced from this traditional source.  The wood of the cricket bat willow is ideal for this purpose as it does not splinter or dent easily, it is tough and shock resistant whilst still being comparatively light weight.  Mature willows (between fifteen and twenty years old) are necessary for the production of cricket bats.  The majority are grown specifically for this purpose as there are not enough naturally occurring willows to meet demand.  Once the mature tree is felled it is cut to 28inch lengths before being graded for quality.  The best grade willow will provide the best cricket bats. Next time you are enjoying playing or watching a game of cricket, it is worth giving some thought to the trees that have made the game what it is, as well as aiding people in many other ways for thousands of years.        Established in 1973, Morrant Group Ltd is a family run business with over 35 years experience in mail order team sports equipment. Father, Daughter, Son and staff are working hard every day to ensure that our company achieves its aim.For further information, please visit http://www.morrant.com
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