The famous Crockett cricket bats were made from willow grown at Shepherd's Flat. Established by John Crockett and his brother William Crockett, and international cricket umpire. Established around 1908, by 1948 50,000 willow trees were growing.
When the tree reach about 18in in diameter, and sap activity is at its lowest, it is sawn close to the ground and cut into 27in logs.
- HISTORIC WILLOW.
- Crockett's Tree Removed.
- DAYLESFORD, Tuesday. — A willow tree at Hepburn, which was considered by residents as a memorial to the late Mr. Bob Crockett, the famous cricket umpire, has been destroyed. The tree was one of those originally brought from England by Mr. Crockett to establish a bat industry in Australia. It was planted .on a small plot of Crown land. When the plantation was removed to a larger holding at Shepherd's Flat this tree was left to mark the original spot. The tree was evidently removed by experts, its commercial value being about £20. Mr. M. Crockett, a son of the late Bob Crockett, is offering a reward for information leading to the convic tion of the person who removed tho tree. 'The Glenlyon shire council has decided to consult with relatives of the late Mr. Crockett, with a view to establishing a permanent reserve at the spot because of historical interest.
Fred Findlay - Made Crockett Bats <1948>
Harry Preston - Made Crockett Bats <1948>
Aquilino Tinetti - Made Crockett Bats <>
- DAYLESFORD WILLOWS BURNT
- Damage caused by bush fires at the Daylesford willow plantation is a serious blow to the Victorian cricket bat industry, which, in the past few years, has achieved considerable success in its attempt to manufacture locally some of the 25,000 odd cricket bats, valued at £12,000, which are bought in Australia each year. The damage is estimated at more than £1000. Hundreds of the 2000 trees in the plantation were totally destroyed or severely damaged by the fire, and 1400 cricket bats were destroyed. Planted about 25 years ago by Mr R. M. ("Bob") Crockett, the veteran cricket umpire, who was the pioneer of the cricket bat industry in Australia, the plantation is now managed by Mr Jack Crockett. It is recognised as Australia's main source of supply for cricket bat wood, and behind the successful establishment of the industry is a picturesque story of endeavor and per severance by "the prince of cricket umpires" and his brother.
- Some of the Cricket Bats Which the Australian Eleven Took to England This Year Were Made From Timber Grown at the Only Blue-willow Or Cricket-bat Willow Plantation in Australia
- By a Special Correspondent
- ON the Crockett estate, at Shepherd's Flat, six miles from Daylesford, 5,000 sturdy willow trees grow; sufficient to provide many generations of Bradmans with all the bats they need.
- This Victorian enterprise was started nearly 40 years ago by a chance re-mark passed on the Melbourne Cricket-ground one day when the late Bob Crockett, the international umpire, sat with England's captain, Archie MacLaren, watching a Test match.
- MacLaren idly remarked, "One thing that surprises me, Bob, is that the bat willow is not grown in Australia. It's a very ornamental willow, but, though I've seen a score of suitable localities, I haven't seen a single tree growing here."
- Crockett suggested MacLaren should send him some cuttings when he returned to England. His mind mostly on the game, he added, "We'll try to grow some ourselves."
- Crockett promptly forgot the incident, but six months later the cut-tings arrived. Six were sent, sealed in steel tubes, though only one survived the heat of the equator. Part of this one was still semi green, so Crockett rushed it to his brother, a Daylesford horticulturist, who grafted the half-dead shoot on to an ordinary river willow. The cutting received a sap transfusion and survived.
- It grew six inches in the first year before it was removed from the stock and put in a flower-pot to take root before planting out.
- Today the progeny of that bud find their way into a small factory in Seddon, where they are shaped into cricket bats by processes winch have hardly changed in 200 years. The factory is controlled by Mr J. Crockett, son of the founder.
- When the tree is about 18in in diameter, and sap activity is at its lowest, it is sawn close to the ground and cut into 27in logs.
- THE LOGS are split on the quarter into 3in by 5in clefts, the outside sap wood being first dis-arded because it lacks durability and there is the danger of insect pests.
- The centres are also discarded because of their shortness of grain.
- After seasoning for four weeks on the plantation, the clefts are brought into Melbourne to be made up. They are then chopped out into roughly shaped bat form, the ends being painted, usually with hot lime, to prevent cracking.
- The rough shapes are laid by for 12 months; stacked for the maximum ventilation and so that no sunlight reaches them.
- When next he takes up these clefts, the batmaker drawknives and spoke shaves them into a fairly good shape, after which they are put through a roller which exerts a heavy pressure on the pliant timber, moulding it more nearly to its ultimate form under 1 1/2 tons pressure. These are called the "finished clefts," and the bat is now ready for the handle and the cutting of the shoulder.
- THE HANDLES are of rattan cane, with 16 pieces in each. Two sides are squared and glued together, and trimmed off into boards. With layers of mbber between the boards, the whole handle is well compressed and left to dry for 24 hours, when it is fit for turning.
- This is done on a lathe, and the handle is then shaped up to the V.
- Meticulous exactness is demanded, a' well-made handle fitting so well into the blade that it will stick even without glue. Handle fitted into blade, a critical eye is then run over the bat, examining it for balance, strength, shape, and size before the handle is bound with a tough string.
- THE RATTAN comes from Borneo. During the war Queens-land loya vine was used as a substitute, but after the recapture of Borneo the Army Amenities Service flew Mr Crockett to Sarawak. He went 300 miles up the Lotoei River in search of the best rattan cane in the world. Three tons were floated down-river and flown to Melbourne to be made into bats for the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.
- Mr Crockett says that, in choosing a bat, one should hold it face up and look down the handle'to the bottom of the back. If a straight line is found it should be a good bat.
- Many batsmen also look for eight straight grains down the face, and some discard bats with even slight discolouration or blemishes on the face.' Others prefer a bat that is light yellow on one side and brown on the other; an indication that it was cut where the new year's growth started. The wood is said to be stronger at that point.
- Warwick Armstrong, former Australian captain, used a Crockett bat on his memorable tour of 1921.