English Willow & Bat Grading

Why English Willow?

English Willow or Salix Alba Caerulea - A specific type of white Willow that is favoured by most professional batsman.

All of the handmade cricket bats that we stock at Custom Cricket 201 are made from quality English Willow.  You can rest assured that any bat purchase you make with us will have been through a meticulous process by the bat maker who will have handpicked, graded and selected the cleft to make the bat.  


English Willow is the type of wood used to manufacture professional cricket bats worldwide as it provides the compression and strength required to play with a hard cricket ball.  Bats made from English Willow are light, soft and have strong grains.


But why the price difference?

The price of cricket bats can vary hugely especially when comparing English Willow Bats to bats made from other lesser wood such as 'Kashmir Willow'. 

English Willow bats are also split into 5 grades as detailed below all carrying differing price tags.

A common misconception would be that a bat made from a more expensive piece of English Willow (Grade 1) will outperform a bat made from a less expensive piece of wood (Grade 3).  In our opinion though the potential of a lower graded bat is still able to perform to that of a higher priced/graded bat but realistically it comes down to the cosmetic appearance.  Higher graded bats do also have less blemishes along with thinner more compacted grains and are 'the best performing bats' in terms of taking less time and preparation (i.e. 'Knocking In') for match play due to the quicker time the bat takes to reach its peak playing potential. 



Grade 1+ Willow (The very best)

This is the absolute very best Willow money can buy.  The quality of the wood is generally reserved for professionals/international players.  The bats made from this wood will have over 10 straight grains and its appearance will be blemish free.

Grade 1

This is very high quality Willow and will have some heart wood in its edges normally with a slightly wider grain than the 1+.  It is also possible to find the occasional small knot or pin knot in the edge of the bat.  This however has no effect on its playing ability.  The face of the bat will be clean and have a minimum of 6 straight grains.

Grade 2

A very good quality Willow that has a greater amount of red wood in the appearance of the bat, particularly on the edge.  Again it may have some visible cosmetic imperfections but they have no effect on the playing of the bat.  It will have a minimum of 6 straight grains.

Grade 3

Excellent value Willow.  Grade 3 will have a much higher percentage of coloured wood on the surface of the bat however this does not affect the playing abilities of the bat.  A grade 3 bat has a fantastic life span as it is a much stronger wood.

Grade 4 (Butterfly)

Cosmetically a ‘butterfly’ bat is not as pleasing to the eye however the performance can rival any of the top tier bats.  The low price range that the butterfly bats come under are a reflection of cosmetics rather than the performance of the bat.  A butterfly graded bat is essentially a very strong bat.


Did you know..?

  • Each grain on a cricket bat represents one years growth.
  • Narrower grained bats are a much softer Willow and in general will have an 18-20 year life span before having being cut.  
  • The longer lifespan of a wide grain Willow is because it is not as old as the tighter grains so they are a lot stronger.
  • The length of a bat may be no more than 38 inches and the width no more than 4.25 inches.