With Revati Prasad.
Enthusiasm can be infectious. Sasanka Thilakasiri is enthusiastic about cricket. A year or so ago, Sas volunteered to walk me through the culture, legacy and rules of cricket. Apparently to be good at cricket you need to be fast with the tongue not just with the bat. After a healthy G&T, cucumber sandwiches and some light sledging we sat down to watch highlights of the 1999 cricket World Cup. Well one thing lead to another and soon enough, Varun Ghosh and Sas were organizing a cricket face-off ; they were responsible for the skill, I was responsible for the bat.
So we started with yet another section of the hickory tree that David and I felled this winter. While cricket bats may be fashioned from everything – from the finest willow planks to whatever scrap is available – hickory’s limited geographic range make this a unique wood selection for a bat. The secret here is that I have actually never held a cricket bat. Much like a facial composite artist approximates in on his target, I worked to the bats final dimensions based on Revati’s description.
Revati used a draw knife to remove the bulk of the wood and outer wood. The record should show – that given how dull the blade is , she is showing quite a bit of physical prowess here. And to think just weeks ago she was horrified that a tool existed which involved pulling a waist sized blade very quickly towards your fleshiest parts. We followed that up with the power planer and finally with a hand plane. I cheated a little with the power planer – but hey this was a project on a deadline. Cutting greenwood with a hand plane isn’t nearly as satisfying as the dried variety – although its a good reminder what a living breathing organism trees really are. The higher moisture content means the tool gets gummed up rather than slicing through the wood. As time passes the bat should get lighter and lighter as the wood dries to its stable moisture content. As the evening wore out, Revati’s cute dress gave way to a dress shirt to fight off the mosquito swarms. Also note that she is doing all of this in heels.
I started with an axe to work the handle down to size. We followed it up with a spoke-shave. Handles can be tricky and I was a tad overenthusiastic which caused the handle to be off center a little to the left of the paddle. If only I could utter that sentence about our body politic.
Over pints and dinner – we took a minute to figure out where else we should shape the wood. I sat with the bat for a day and re-sketched the problem areas. I sanded it down to 100 grit and will probably do another couple of pass when the bat is fully cured. I am really thankful that of all the times that I am cut off by aggressive and irresponsible drivers one of those times wasn’t when I held the bat on my bike ride home.
We did okay but we looked good doing it. Well, we did okay at the actual cricket – we were phenomenal at the sledging. Turns out that playing cricket involves a lot of time in the sun – and in my case chasing down 6′s. I am not going to say who won the Varun/Sas face off that started this all, but lets just say it wasn’t cricket (I may not be able to bowl but I can sledge).