David Lloyd takes a visit to bat-maker B3 Cricket.
For an ex-pro who knows club cricket as well as the international game, you need look no further than David Lloyd.
Bumble, not only a Sky Sports commentator but president of Accrington CC and a devotee of league cricket in general, is well aware of what players of all levels are after when choosing their equipment.
And after a recent visit to Nottinghamshire-based bat-makers B3, he’s full of praise for the precise methods and bespoke professional service they’re offering club players this season.
“B3 seem to have moved things on from when I was playing,” Bumble said after his factory tour.
“Now it’s precision engineering, and that’s the exciting thing: it’s built for you. Male or female, tell B3 what you want and they’ll make it. It doesn’t matter what level you play at.”
B3’s ‘Pro Custom’ service uses state-of the-art technology to offer custom-made bats on an individual basis for every customer. Players can design their own stick in 3D online, with as many as 600,000 possible combinations available: everything from weight, bat-handle size and shape, profile, edge width, spines, grips and stickers can be changed to suit individual preference. Then using a combination of a high-tech CNC machine and traditional hand-made methods, B3 deliver a fully bespoke bat to order.
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And the pro-level service doesn’t stop there, as B3’s repairs and refurbishments service will turn a bat in need of TLC into one that’s match-ready and in the hand of its owner within a week. Send it on the Monday, have it ready to play with on the Saturday. As Bumble recognised, “That’s service!”
That the cricket-loving people at B3 are still going is in itself pretty remarkable. Last summer their factory was gutted by a fire originating in a neighbouring unit. Despite the damage, they are now well on the road to recovery, and have seen remarkable growth in their mission to cater to varying individual demands of players from up and down the game – from international openers like Pakistan’s Shaan Masood, to occasional village-green players. What’s more, their unique set-up and direct service means they offer all this at a reasonable price, with bats starting from £150.
“No one out there makes personal bats for club cricketers like us,” says managing director Michael Blatherwick. “We still make bats in a very traditional way, with some modern technology. We cut the bats with a machine, but everything else is as it was 100 years ago.
“The fire set us back massively, especially in an Ashes summer, but on a positive note it gave us time to step back and streamline things. Our production processes and brand new machinery mean our bats are even better than before the fire.”
After Bumble’s trip to meet the team and learn about their manufacturing process, B3 certainly have a new very high-profile and much-loved admirer.