VIDEO: A Dead Eye shot from Grafton’s very own batman
CRICKET: As a builder Adam Elliott has a dead eye for detail. The owner of AB Elliott Constructions has started another business, directing his craftsmanship skills towards his passion for cricket.
Earlier this year Elliott became an accredited bat maker and throughout the off season, under his own label Dead Eye Cricket, has been busy making bats for local cricketers from Newcastle to Queensland in time for the summer.
"A few cricket mates who broke their bats brought them in and I had a crack at repairing them," Elliott explained. "It worked out well so I thought I'd see if there's a market for it and that's where it started."
Elliott discovered there weren't too many bat makers in Australia and attended a five-day bat making course run by Callen Cricket at Healesville in Victoria, where the willow he now uses is grown.
"You can't beat Australian made I reckon," he said. "There's nothing better than that. You can see it from the ground where it's being grown. "You know what you're going to get and you don't have the extra costs to import it.
"Once I saw they were growing the willow in Australia I thought it would be a good thing to use an Australian made product, so I signed up for the course.
"I missed out the first time and a guy from Coffs got it. But then he moved away and I got the call. There's now about 50 bat makers all over Australia.
"It was definitely an eye opener. It started in 1902 when former English captain Archie MacLaren stayed in Healesville. He found the climate similar to England, so he sent willow cuttings to test umpire Bob Crockett who established a plantation at Daylseford. Slazenger bought it in 1956 and cut it down to stop the industry in Australia.
"Ian Callen sourced the cuttings from Bob Crockett's trees that he still had and found a suitable place for a 25 acre plantation in the flats in Healesville and started producing bats in 1985.
"The quality of the timber is nop notch."
As the official bat maker for the North Coast region, Elliott is now one of about 50 Willow Blue Accredited bat makers across the country.
When Elliott lines up as an all-rounder for Coutts Crossing against GDSC Easts in the season opener at McKittrick Park this Saturday, you can rest assured he'll be wielding a Dead Eye bat. And he won't be the only player sporting a Dead Eye this season.
"I made one for Bear (Brandon) Honeybrook," he said. "Kenny Willis bought one for his son but had one go of it and ended up taking it for himself."
Elliott's top range bat is a Grade One Prestige valued at $475. He also has a Grade Two Original and Grade Three Classic, offers full bat maintenance and repair and can even create replicas of players' favourite bats.
"The hardest part is probably getting the weight right," he said.
"Brett O'Connor has a custom made bat shaped to his liking. He's a big hitter of the ball and wanted the same bat as his old Puma with a big hook (bow) in it.
"It's not a bad bat."
Elliott is confident his bats are up to scratch with what you might expect from some of the more reputable bat manufacturers.
"I reckon they're definitely they're up there, or even better from some of the reviews I've received from blokes like Ken Willis and a lot of the younger fellas buying the bats."
"It's a good feeling when you see people use them and a big smile on their face when they're hitting good shots."
For Elliott making the bats is a labour of love, where he gets to pull out the old hand tools in the back shed.
And he's not about to give up his day job.
"I like to treat it like a hobby and not a full time job because then I enjoy it more. It gets me out in the shed."
So why Dead Eye?
"That was the name Pop gave me. He made my first bat out of a fence paling and I've still got it."
"It actually had to do with shooting a rifle.
"But my pop made my first backyard cricket bat out of a fence paling at Tamworth and I've still got it. That's where the inspiration came from."
"I've still got to make myself one yet. I'm too busy making everyone else's."
Want your own Dead Eye bat? Contact Adam Elliott on 0413 613 846 to arrange a time to drop in and check out his range.
As an extra incentive Elliott is offering a free t-shirt for any centuries scored using a Dead Eye cricket bat this season.