February 7, 2011

Of biscuits and motorbikes, and bats

Dustin Silgardo
Cricket bats being sold outside a workshop in Hyderabad, Hyderabad, February 8, 2011
Since when do Reebok and MRF make cricket bats?  © AFP

From sponsored blimps to commercial-filled broadcasts, advertising’s influence on modern-day cricket is inescapable. Bat-makers haven’t been spared, as they are forced to watch their carefully crafted pieces of wood gilded with stickers of anyone and everyone but the company actually responsible for making the product. "Buying players with advertising is far cheaper than investing in making bats. We are crafting bats, they are using stickers. They are ruining our brands, because we cannot afford to give that kind of money, those royalties to the players,” Rakesh Mahajan, director of BD Mahajan and Sons (BDM), one of India’s premier bat-makers, told www.supersport.com. “Sponsorship is no harm, but removing the manufacturer's branding is not fair. We are building the bats, but people are not recognising us; the sponsors are taking the credit.”

Mahajan summed up his frustration by saying he didn’t mind seeing bats with Gray Nicholls or Kookaburra logos because at least they were fellow bat-makers. But, “the problem is Nike, Reebok, Adidas, people like Britannia and Hero Honda,” he said. “They make biscuits and motorbikes, not bats!”

Dustin Silgardo is a former sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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