GRAY-NICOLLS: OUR HISTORY
We are Gray-Nicolls; The iconic cricket brand built on over 150 years of heritage, where tradition meets innovation.
The Gray-Nicolls name came to be in 1942, as two illustrious brands of the time joined forces: HJ Gray and Sons and LJ Nicolls (pictured).
Grays was a manufacturer of rackets and cricket bats based in Cambridge and established in 1855. They famously supplied to the likes of King George VI and Ranjitsinjh.
Nicolls was an independent cricket bat maker in Robertsbridge, East Sussex who provided bats for WG Grace and CB Fry.
In this new partnership, Gray-Nicolls continued to thrive and soon became the cricket brand of choice, with a host of iconic cricketers on its roster, such as Wally Hammond, Keith Miller, Ted Dexter, Richie Benaud and Frank Worrell.
One of the great points of difference between Gray-Nicolls and other brands is that we grow our own willow trees. That allows us to have complete control of production from
source to century. Willow is grown and felled at one of our plantations before being brought to Robertsbridge where production begins.
Our bat-makers lovingly hand-craft bats in our own factories in England, Australia and India, all under the Gray-Nicolls marque, allowing our bat production to meet demand all year round, with our passionate staff helping us to keep up with varying trends in different regions.
The 'Salix alba Caerulea' Willow Tree thrives in damp soil and will typically grow around bodies of water. Their extensive root systems and large capacity for water retention mean that they can help manage floodplains by stabilising surrounding soils and preserving nutrient rich topsoils. Their growth rate is considerable and, when managed, allows a Salix Alba to reach maturity in 15-20 years. The planting of cuttings and subsequent felling of the species is a highly sustainable practice that benefits the environment, landowners, and cricket bat manufactures alike. Furthermore, the speed with which it grows makes it a wonderful 'chop-and-drop' material as it can be coppiced on a regular 2-3 year cycle.
One intriguing quality of the Salix Alba is its tremendous ability to both capture and store carbon. It's rate of high energy growth is driven through the assimilation of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, which makes the tree highly effective in the global effort to reduce high concentrations of CO² in the atmosphere.
Our desire to continually innovate is deeply ingrained in the company. The 1970s saw technological advances in cricket bats that hadn’t been seen until that point – where many were pioneered by Gray-Nicolls and soon became synonymous with excellence. Gray-Nicolls became the first brand to use coloured bat labels and the flash of red that adorns all our bats, is an instantly recognisable design to this day. We also created the Steel Spring bat handle that allowed for greater whip in shots when batting.
The most iconic of all was the Gray-Nicolls Scoop. The Scoop is arguably the most famous cricket bat of all time, with a “scooped out” spine that allows for more weight to be distributed around the bat. The bat was used by legendary players such as Ian and Greg Chappell, Clive Lloyd and Barry Richards. In 1994, twenty years after it was first conceived, the Scoop made a comeback and helped power Brian Lara to a then Test Match world record of 375* against England.
Through the 1990’s and 2000’s, Gray-Nicolls was the brand of choice for England captains. Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook all used Gray-Nicolls throughout their tenures in charge.
The Cook/Gray-Nicolls partnership achieved incredible success on the international stage. Each of his 13,323 Test runs was scored with a Gray-Nicolls bat – which is still the record for an Englishman.
Gray-Nicolls’ place on the world stage has been further cemented
in recent times through our partnerships with iconic international cricketers. The likes of Kane Williamson, Aaron Finch and Babar Azam are global icons, helping take Gray-Nicolls to all corners of the cricketing world.
Gray-Nicolls has been a long-time advocate for the women's game, supporting some of the great names of cricket's past and present.
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint and Jan Brittan were two of the pre-eminent names of their eras, leading triumphant teams on the field and building a better game off it.
Today, we work with the outstanding talent in the England team including Tammy Beaumont, Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey.
Although our international ambassadors shine with Gray-Nicolls on the world stage, it is the grassroots of cricket that is shapes much of our focus. We are proud of our many partnerships that help take the game to as many junior players as possible, including a long-term deal with Chance To Shine.
We also work in partnership with over 400 amateur cricket clubs in the UK alone to supply their match and leisure wear, ensuring Gray-Nicolls is at the heartbeat of club cricket.