Gippsland’s own bat man
IT takes 22 years for an English willow to mature, before it can be harvested to be made into cricket bats, which is what Moyarra’s Andrew O’Hoy has recently started to do.
Under the name of Lyrebird
Cricket, Mr O’Hoy has been creating his own range of custom made cricket bats for just over 12 months.
Two years ago, he completed a bat making course run by former Australian test cricketer and master bat maker Ian Callen.
Mr O’Hoy is now accredited and is able to access timber from Willow Blue plantations, which is only available to bat makers trained by Mr Callen.
The trees in Willow Blue plantations date back to 1902 and the original English willow trees planted in Victoria to kick off Australia’s cricket bat industry in the 1930s.
“Ian (Callen) decided to track down the original trees and actually found some. He took cuttings and put in his plantations, one at Healesville and one at Sale,” Mr O’Hoy said.
“What makes my business unique is that I am targeting Gippsland, making bats in Gippsland, from locally sourced timber.”
Many of the mass produced cricket bats available on the market are kiln dried, which makes them light, but not necessarily durable.
Mr O’Hoy’s timber is air dried for 12 months, which means it retains around 12 percent moisture.
“The timber is a bit heavier, but it doesn’t dry out as much as commercial bats can,” he said.
“My bats are all hand shaped, using hand tools like a draw knife, a
spokeshave and good old sandpaper.”
It takes around three days for Mr O’Hoy to create a custom designed cricket bat, which is then machine knocked in if required, oiled and stickered.
His bats are all custom made to each client’s requirements.
“The customer comes in, chooses a timber clef and then personalises the design to suit their game. The weight of the bat and length of blade is variable,” Mr O’Hoy said.
“I like to get the customers involved so I send them photos along the way so they can see how the bat making process is coming along.
“With all of the mass produced bats on the market, it is good to do something a bit unique.”
After many years as a CPA accountant, Mr O’Hoy decided he wanted a bit of a break. He was watching television and saw a segment on cricket bat making.
“I have always loved cricket, I used to make miniature bats when I was younger. I thought it would be good to combine a sport I like with a specialist skill,” he said.
“I did an internet search and Ian’s name came up and that is how I got involved. I did the course and go back regularly for refreshers.”
Mr O’Hoy said he is hoping to expand his range into women’s cricket bats before the next season starts.
“In the past, women have had to use men’s or junior bats,” he said.
“There is a lot happening in women’s sport at the moment and it is about time.”
After his first season of making bats, Mr O’Hoy said it has been a journey and he is keen to see where it takes him in the future.
“There are a lot of big names out there for cricket bats and I am a realist, but I would like to think little by little I can convert people over to custom made,” he said.
“It is a bit of a niche market, but I am enjoying it. There is something about people being able to choose and customise their own bat.
“Being in a regional area, it is good to be able to provide that personal touch.”
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