World Class Willow, based in Edington, Somerset was founded in 2018 and has fast become one of the best regarded independent British cricket bat makers. Head Bat Maker, Mike Kennedy, is internationally renowned for his master craftsmanship and consequently his cricket bats are being used used by numerous international and first-class cricketers around the world.
The distinctive branding of World Class Willow is deliberately designed to appeal to a wide audience, from the traditional, purist cricketer who likes to support independent British cricket bat makers to the casual cricketer, who is looking for a high quality bat with standout design. The World Class Willow Orca cricket bat, as recognised by The Cricketer magazine as the only bat to score 9/10 in their 2020 Good Gear Guide for performance, combines a high spine, modern profile, with substantial edges and an 8 piece cane handle, finished with a square toe. The Orca cricket bat is available on The Cricket Store and when you order it, you can schedule a consultation with Head Bat Maker, Mike Kennedy, who will hand select the perfect cricket bat for you.
World Class Willow is truly that - the only willow they use for their bats is of the highest possible quality available including some grown and processed in Somerset. All bats are pressed and handcrafted by Mike, in the World Class Willow workshop. Mike attributes the quality of willow to a combination of patience, perfect soil acidity and moisture content, but particularly to individual tree management and care. To take a tree down too early risks quality as well as quantity of clefts, and a sustainable ‘bloodline’ for generations to come. The end result of this longer term view that is shared by all who World Class Willow work with is exceptional willow and ultimately the finest cricket bats.
Looking ahead to the 2021 season & beyond, Mike is continuing to develop World Class Willow into an industry leading bat maker, taking innovative approaches to bat making. Following the traditional principles of bat making with an innovative edge, putting himself at the forefront of industry innovation. The workshop in Somerset, where Mike is regularly found, is a trip I would encourage every keen cricketer to take and as a testament to Mike, he is always so open and welcoming to all cricket enthusiasts to visit and spend some quality time discussing the game.
You can browse & order the entire World Class Willow 2020 range on The Cricket Store, here. Save 5% off the World Class Willow 2020 range with promo code: WCW5
Morton Cricket, formerly Morton & Carson, based in Hertfordshire, launched in 2019 as one of the newest independent bat makers, following traditional designs, endorsing the slogan “show your stag”, an homage to the stag logo. Head Bat Maker, Josh has taken to bat making with the enthusiasm of a novice and my recognition of this work, a precious talent to complement it. Morton Cricket, follow the traditional principles of bat making and this is carried into their range.
The upcoming 2021 bat range, and not to mention the launch of their softs range. It goes without saying that the challenges of starting a new business are vast, however when this is combined with the unprecedented nature of COVID, real recognition must be given to Morton Cricket & Josh. Falling perhaps, guilty of recent bias, writing this on a sunny Sunday afternoon in February I could be forgiven for being slightly optimistic, but I feel this season will be the first that Morton Cricket really make a big impact in the British cricket market.
Whist it would be narwal to write this blog, focused on the Morton Cricket bat range (which I will of course, come to), I would first like to draw attention to the 2021 Morton Cricket Duffle Bag. As the debut softs range of Morton Cricket, like any cricket-nut I will look through their catalogue of equipment selecting which items of kit would take my fancy for the coming season and this bag, appears to offer everything you would look for in a cricket duffle bag. In classic, black with gold branding, the cricket bag has enough room for all your equipment, perfect for nets, pre-season practice and matches. With three full-length bat sleeves dedicated compartments for your shoes, helmet and other equipment it is a fantastic all rounder cricket bag.
Albeit a miss from me to not mention, the Morton Signature Edition cricket bat. Focusing on the design for one minute, the logo is laser engraved onto the face of the bat & the back, with the signature of Josh Morton, Head Bat Maker’s bat laser engraved onto the toe of the bat. A simple, timeless, elegant design which is befitting the kitbag of any purist cricketer. Only to add to the prestige of the bat further, is that it is limited in production, with one bat made every month. Maintaining this exceptionally high bar for quality assurance, is also a testament to the brand Head Bat Maker, Josh Morton is building.
In 2016, following a series of heart issues and mental health battles throughout Josh Morton’s (Morton Cricket’s Head Bat Maker) final full cricket season, Josh decided to take a step back from playing but such was his love for the game, that he could not step away from it entirely. So, as is common, Josh began coaching young cricketers and offering a bat doctor service for local club players, a pathway to what became Morton Cricket.
In early 2018, Josh created his first make-shift workshop, at home, with a rickety old work bench off he purchased on Facebook marketplace which he located outside his house and equipped with a £20, 1948 drawknife and two bodged up old spokeshaves and sandpaper. As was Josh’s passion that he worked all year around, even with ice on the ground in the midst of November! Shortly after this, Josh received an invite from an old University friend to join a tour of Sussex, where the team visited Keeley’s workshop, near Battle. Returning to the workshop the following day, Josh spoke extensively with Nick & Tim, asking questions about the bat making process and how the industry operates. Shortly after, Josh purchased a part made bat from Keeley, which he shaped with a duckbill profile passing it onto a fellow local cricketer, which proved to be the catalyst for Morton Cricket.
Graduating from the great outdoors, Josh’s workshop moved into his Mum’s old garage. Slightly cramped, damp and frequented by wasps Josh carried on working on refurbishments as a primary source of income and making bats when the orders came in.
Fast forward to 2020 and in spite of all the challenges faced, Josh moved into a new workshop that was perfectly situated less than a mile from the school, where he works. With family support remaining a key theme in the founding of Morton Cricket, Josh’s brother built a new workbench to fit the original layout of the space and Josh started to invest in other equipment to scale up the production of Morton Cricket.
Like any new start-up business, support is key and Josh has been warmly welcomed into the cricket bat making industry, in particular by Tim & Nick Keeley, James & Matt from H4L, David from XX Cricket and Mike from WCW, all of whom have been instrumental in Josh’s developed at a bat maker, offering workshop tours & guidance when called upon.
6 months on from moving into the workshop, Josh’s focus is to continue building the brand in his vision. Self aware and focused on the bigger picture, Josh’s ambition is not to become the world’s most prolific bat maker, but rather continue teaching at the school where he currently works until he retires, as his primary mission is to educate the future. A powerful mission I am sure we can all agree with. However, focusing on the future for Morton Cricket, Josh will continue doing what he loves, making cricket bats with a unique identity and giving customers the experience they wouldn’t find anywhere else.