James Laver on the making of a cricket bat
Bat-maker James Laver of Laver & Wood talks extensively to PakPassion.net about how the timber's grain effects a bat's lifespan, the Mongoose and, among other things, how picky Sanath Jayasuriya could be when it comes to his bats.
Essentially it comes down to the fact that tightly grained bats (12 or more) perform better initially but do not last as long. Bats with what we refer to as the optimum number (7 to 10) last much longer. This is important for our bats as they are known to continually improve over time. Obviously, the longer a bat lasts, the more opportunity it has to develop. Therefore tightly grained clefts may perform well to begin with but after half a season or so bats with fewer grains will begin to out-perform them.
...One of the pickiest was certainly Sanath Jayasuriya. I made a bat for him in 1998, which lasted him roughly four hours and 200 runs! Ever since then he was insistent on making every bat I made for him as close as possible to that specific one. It was difficult at times to get the bats identical but I enjoyed the challenge.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo