Self confessed junior grade slogger Michael Houston is nonetheless entering the cricket industry – to honour a commitment to his mate Terry West.
In the early 1990s, with renowned bat maker Lachlan Fisher, Mr West planted about 120 English willows on the Mt Alfred property in the Upper Murray, which has been owned by his partner Helene Grothe since the 1990s.
The dream was to convert the willow plantation into handmade cricket bats.
When Mr West died after a long battle with cancer three years ago, he left care of the trees to Mr Houston, who runs Angus steers for the feedlot market.
“It was Terry’s dream to make bats, so we’re doing it to honour his legacy,” Mr Houston said.
“Helene holds a share in the plantation but she’s given me the freedom to give it a go.”
Mr Fisher visited the plantation for the first time last week, felling the first tree.
He said a good tree could yield about 28 bats, but because of knots and a lack of pruning during Mr West’s later years the Mt Alfred plantation would fall far short of that target.
“There’s bats in there but not a big yield,” Mr Fisher said.
“I’ve spoken to Michael ... I just thought we’d get a legacy for Terry.”
He would guide Mr Houston on how to cut and mill the clefts into handmade “DunRunnin” bats.
Mr Houston would then market and sell his exclusive bats direct to the public.
- An earlier version of this story said Mr West left his land to his partner Helene Grothe. This was incorrect, she had taken over the property years earlier.