Hitting the sweet spot

SALLY and Paul Bradbury are WA’s only genuine pod shavers.

If you’ve not come across this peculiarly specialised trade, pod shavers handcraft cricket bats using traditional methods.

The Bradbury’s love of willow stems from their success on the field; both played cricket at a high level, with Ms Bradbury representing WA, and for years the pair juggled life in Perth with summers playing county cricket in England.

But when kids came along and the company where Mr Bradbury was working as an apprentice closed down, they decided to settle permanently in Perth and try their hand at professional pod shaving.

• Sally Bradbury is one of the world’s only female pod shavers. Photo by Holly Coomey

• Sally Bradbury is one of the world’s only female pod shavers. Photo by Holly Coomey

They import a type of willow called salix alba caerulea from England, which is considered the strongest of its type and with good flexibility. It’s considered so important to the country’s image, when stocks started to run dangerously low the government stepped in to introduce strict controls on how many could be felled.

Once the Bradbury’s receive the blocks of willow they set about drying, cutting, pressing and polishing them into a run-making machine.

Antique

Their tools are generally sourced from antique shows.

The Bradbury’s say one of their most unusual tools is a horse shinbone, which is soaked in linseed oil and then rubbed up and down the bats to give them a lovely shine.

Their only nod to modernity is the CNC machine which uses CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing) to shape bats for shelf sale in stores.

Each bat a shaped to suit the player and the form of game, and Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, Shane Warne and Kumar Sangakkara are just some wielding a customised Bradbury.

• The Bradbury’s faith in Hilton Cartwright paid off with his surprise inclusion in the national one day team.

• The Bradbury’s faith in Hilton Cartwright paid off with his surprise inclusion in the national one day team.

The Bradbury’s sponsor up-and-coming cricketer Hilton Cartwright, who made headlines last week for his shock call-up to the Australian one day team.

Ms Bradbury says they’ve been sponsoring the 24-year-old for eight years and reckons he’s deserving of his success.

“We look after a lot of young guys, but when they get selected the chequebook comes out and they disappear, but Hilton’s got really good principles and he said ‘no, I am going to stick with you’,” Ms Bradbury says.

They not only supply his willow, but other protective gear such as gloves and pads.

49arts2-3

Ms Bradbury designs the protective gear, and one of the couple always accompanies the designs to India where they’re manufactured, to ensure they don’t end up in a sweatshop or being manufactured by child labourers.

During the 2011 Ashes campaign, seven of the Aussie team were using Bradbury bats, although that fact was hidden by sneaky store owners who’d put their own stickers over the couple’s because the business wasn’t at that stage open to the public.

Their logo includes the ‘tygre passant’ taken directly from the Bradbury family coat of arms.

If you are a seasoned veteran or a junior just picking up the sport, there is only one place to go for your cricket bats and this is it.

by HOLLY COOMEY

Bradbury Master Batmakers
7A Forsyth Street, O’Connor
9314 5612

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