Grafica News - May 2015

What's that … something shining on cricket bats? A designer sticker indeed!

The cricket bat, to a great extent, is also used for branding by sports goods manufacturers. The stickers on the bat constantly attract our attention when we watch the matches on the television. And in a high populated country like ours, which has maximum cricket lovers, the branding is definitely a very powerful tool for bat manufacturers and sponsors of cricket match.

Some of the leading bat brands are: Spartan, Kookaburra, SG, SS, Bas, NB, Hero, MRF, GM, Puma, Adidas, Nike, SM, Reebok, Gray Nicoglls, BDM, Gravity, New Balance (NB), etc.

These bats have elegant stickers, prominently identifying each of these cricket bat brands. What is not known is that these stickers are screen printed by some of the Grafica's customers.

The purpose of applying stickers is surely for branding. By default brand gets highlighted every time a batsman carries the bat to the batting crease and the long way back to the pavilion once he is dismissed, not forgetting every moment he handles it during his stay at the crease or at the nonstriking end.

There is a Cricket law (IPL) that prevents the sponsors from using space on the bats for branding purposes. It is learnt that only the bat manufacturers are allowed to put stickers on bats.

Bats are largely made either in India or Pakistan, with few manufacturers in England, Australia, and New Zealand. In India, cricket bats are made in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Cricket bats are manufactured from willow wood which is found in abundance in the Kashmir valley.

Interestingly, insertion of rubber grip and application of stickers is the last leg of over ten steps in the bat production process. The bat is then ready for despatch to showrooms and cricketers.

Industry circle and media have reported that there is a growing demand for cricket bats due to the short duration matches such as ODIs and T20 matches and also due to the prevalence of day-night matches. The popularity of cricket is growing and the game is spreading to several countries.

According to a research report (2012) titled “Growth, Performance and Challenges of Cricket Bat Industry of Kashmir India”, published by Bilal Ahmad Dar and Irfan Ahmad Thokar, Department of Economics, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, there are at least 300 big and small manufacturing units of cricket bats in the valley especially in the two districts of Anantnag and Pulwama. The report noted that each unit manufactures on an average 20,000-25,000 bats per annum. Since the products offered by these manufacturing units are generally of different price ranges, an average price of Rs 550 was chosen after deliberating with the respondent unit holders. An online search reveals that bats are priced in the range of Rs 500 to Rs.10,000. There are bats available in the range of Rs 200–300. Amazingly, when I logged on the Amazon website, I found that the cricket bats are priced in the range of Rs 99 (USI) or Rs 149 (Rebook) to Rs.28,000 (Kookaburra) or Rs.54,000 (Gray Nicolls)).

Whether the bat is lowly or highpriced, these days there cannot a bat without designer stickers highlighting the brand name and logo. Not surprising one finds stickers stuck on all sides - front, back, and edges, thus growing opportunity for screen printers engaged in bat sticker making.

It's not just bats that bring opportunities for screen printers. Sports goods such as gloves, helmets, balls, elbow guards, thigh pads, wicket-keeping gloves, wicket-keeping pads, batting pads, stumps, shoes, etc, require the impression of screen printing. And in some cases, the very bat is packed in a Rexene cover with shoulder strap fitted to carry the bat, which also has the impression of screen printing. This is in addition to the huge opportunity for garment printers as a huge quantity of printed jerseys are required not only for players but also for franchisees who sell this merchandise online. And, a closer look at the stand and one will see thousands of fans waving PVC cheer sticks to support their favourite team; posters and banners; flags and head gears. All these are printed. During my recent visit to Bharat Potteries, Jaipur, I came across crockery items (Tea cups) decorated with IPL/cricket stickers. In their website I also found tea-cups made for some of the IPL franchises such as Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bengaluru. It is clear that IPL franchise are looking for branding from every possible merchandisable items.

The eight edition of IPL comes to an end on 24th May 2015. But with so much of print needed in cricket, the next edition, IPL 2016 will be one screen printers can look forward to.

Shripada Bhat, Editor.

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