It is a very strongly held belief amongst the cricket community that English willow cricket bats are far superior to Kashmir willow cricket bats.
But what if this belief is wrong?
No one is sure where they learned this ‘fact’ but somehow it has become ingrained in almost every cricketer across the country.
As part of setting up Village Cricket Co. we set about to find the truth. What are the real differences between English willow and Kashmir willow cricket bats?
A brief summary of the research we undertook to compare Kashmir willow cricket bats with English willow:
- Read approximately 300 articles comparing the two types of willow online (not everything you read online is going to be true, but if you read enough you can start to get a good idea what is and what isn’t).
- Test bats of different types of willow (English and Kashmir) as well as different grades of each type of willow in village cricket level matches
- Tested the same types of bats in both outdoor and indoor net environments
A brief history of Kashmir willow
To understand the differences between Kashmir and English willow, we need to understand where these two types of willow trees came from.
The Salix alba willow tree discovered about 300 years ago in Norfolk and has been cloned ever since to supply the cricket bat industry. It is thought the willow trees have been native to England river banks for thousands of years.
Other types of willow, such as the more commonly known weeping willow tree, are too dense and heavy to be made into cricket bats.
During the 1800s, the British, who ruled India, seeing the similarities of climate in the Kashmir region saw an opportunity to bring the Salix alba willow tree to the region. The willow tree saplings were taken by boat to India and planted. And so begun Kashmir willow.
Kashmir willow has the exact same tree ‘DNA’ as English willow so actually shares extremely similar characteristics much closer than you are often led to believe. The only differences being trigged by the slight variation in climate between the Kashmir region and England.
Let’s dig into the differences…
English Willow vs Kashmir Willow
The species of willow grown in Kashmir is identical (Salix alba var. caerulea) to English willow and the only difference is that the willow is not grown in England.
Kashmir willow bats play well and no research-backed evidence has been presented that the wood or finished product has different properties or plays any differently.
Kashmir willow bats are very common in social and amateur competitions, especially throughout India, although English willow is seen as a more “serious” cricketer’s bat.
Weight – Due to the climate of Kashmir being warmer than of that in the UK, the density of the wood is marginally higher. The difference is so marginal you would almost never be able to tell the difference and if you think about it a 2lb 10oz cricket bat is the same weight whether it is made from English willow or Kashmir willow.
Longevity – The slightly increased density of the Kashmir willow has its benefits. As English willow is softer, it is much more prone to breaking (particularly if you do not knock it in properly). Kashmir willow can last for up to five seasons longer than English willow when stored and cared for correctly.
‘Ping’ – The softness of the English willow means it has a greater ‘ping’. This benefit is barely noticeable to 99% of village cricketers. If you find the middle of a Kashmir cricket bat, it will go just as far as an English willow bat.
Colour – The English willow cricket bat is often whiter than Kashmir willow, however, this is only because Kashmir willow can vary more in colour. Kashmir willow can often be indistinguishable from English willow as often the paler colours are turned into cricket bats.
Grades – Kashmir willow, just like English willow, has different gradings that determine quality. G1 Kashmir willow has been used at test level cricket by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Viv Richards and often no differences can be seen between this grade willow and the highest grade English willow cricket bats.
Benefits of Kashmir willow for village cricketers
Despite its bad rep, Kashmir willow is much closer to English willow than the commonly held belief from the cricket community suggests.
In fact, there are some two core benefits for village cricketers to use Kashmir willow cricket bats:
1. Cost. Kashmir willow, despite being almost exactly the same as English willow, comes at a fraction of the cost. Instead of paying £400+ for a bat, you can pick up the highest grade Kashmir willow cricket bat for under £100.
2. Longevity. Kashmir willow lasts longer than English willow. Rather than having to spend another £400+ on a bat in a couple of seasons, it will be years (potentially even decades) before having to invest in a new Kashmir willow cricket bat.
So is a Kashmir willow cricket bat right for me?
If you’re a pro player at the highest level and can afford (or are sponsored) then English willow is perfect for you. You’ll be able to get a new bat every other season so you’ll be fine.
If you’re a village cricketer, if you have a spare £400 then by all means buy an English willow bat.
However, if you want a quality bat which is designed to last more than a couple of seasons whilst still hitting boundaries, check out the Village Cricket Bat – you won’t be disappointed.
12 thoughts on “Kashmir Willow vs English Willow: The Truth About Cricket Bats”
“This benefit is barely noticeable to 99% of cricketers.“
Is there any research that can be cited for this claim?
Thanks for your comment Stu! The research we have undertaken has been by getting cricketers to try out a variety of bats of different types (different grades of both English and Kashmir willow). I have updated the article to clarify that everyone who was in our research are village cricket level players and we have not enlisted any professionals within this research.
This is, of course, not entirely scientifically based research and purely based on us noting down responses from people as they have been trying out the mix of bats of different types and grades.
Good article, Fred. This is an eye opener.
Thanks RP. Glad you enjoyed the read.
Can relate a lot to your article. Have played at least 25 years with Kashmir willow, and have also lent my KW bats to professionals (when their bat was broken during a match) who have gone to score at least 50 more runs, and a lot of centuries, and being absolutely astonished when I told them it’s Kashmir willow, and my bats were at least 5 years old.
I’ve recently bought a KW not realising the myth in the differnce between the 2 (KW & EW). I went purley on the weight, balance and pick up of the KW bat. I’ve now realised there is also a significant difference in cost when contacting the supplier again.
I’m returning to playing at a decent level after taking a couple of years out and did’nt want to spend an etxreme amount on a decent bat. I feel this is a misleading conception and the article above is a sense of reassurance. I was going to go back to the supplier and potentially change for an EW.
I’m about to rejoin club level cricket the coming season and was looking for a cheaper entrant into batting. The difference between Grade 1 KW and Grade 1 EW is just staggering.
I still believe EWs are better than KWs in some respect, but not as much as it is made out to be. Thanks for the article.
Very well written article on KW & EW, I am buying KW bats this year.
I bought my first cricket bat. I chose the KW strictly because it was less that $50 USD. I had read reviews (older) that 1) EW was so superior. 2) That no cricketer on the professional level used KW. Deeper research showed that these were indeed dated and perhaps national prejudices. Being a US cricketer, I was not under that filter. I discovered that the two points were in error. Your article helped me make a decision that met my needs and purse. Thank you.
Excellent article. Of course the blade is only one aspect of a bat: the quality of the handle, its connection to the blade, how the bat is seasoned and stored and cared for and so on is equally important. I own two Stuart Surridge bats from the early 1960s that (were I an idiot) I’m sure I could use today.
Excellent Article, I would be really interested to read more on this topic now. I always believed that EW is superior but this is an eye opener. Would you kindly share how to take good care of KW and EW bats during playing and off season and what are the key differences in taking care for either of these quality bats ?
Thanks for your comment Josh! We have a bat care guide here on how best to care for your bat regardless of the willow being used: https://villagecricket.co/cricket-bat-care-guide/