One of the world's oldest and leading bat manufacturer, Gray-Nicolls, is set to make a return to Indian cricket after a gap of nearly 40 years. The British-based manufacturer has expressed its desire to sponsor the Indian cricketers.
The legendary bat-makers were last seen in India towards the end of the 1970s when the great Sunil Gavaskar was endorsing them.
H.J.Gray and Sons, and L.J. Nicolls joined hands in the early 1940s to come up with the Gray-Nicolls brand and soon found success as the company went on to acquire some of the famous brands – Shaw and Shrewsbury and Wainwrights in the following years.
International stars Alastair Cook, David Warner and Kane Williamson have used Gray-Nicolls bats through the course of their careers.
World rackets champion H.J. Gray was the founder of H.J. Gray and Sons which was founded in the year 1855. The company soon found a respectable position in the international arena following its supply of rackets to some of the greats of the game.
On the other hand, L.J. Nicolls started making bats towards the end of the 19th century in his workshop in Robertsbridge and supplied WG Grace with his record-breaking bat with which he scored his 100th century and made 1000 runs in 1894.
The UK-based company is the official equipment supplier of the International Cricket Council (ICC). In its quest to attract Indian cricketers, Gray-Nicolls recently signed up Karnataka skipper Karun Nair and Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
Nick Wilton, the brand manager of Gray-Nicolls, said Indian cricketers have been on their radar for long a time. "We wanted an Indian ambassador over the last few years but it's proven tricky. Unfortunately, we weren't able to have any conversation with Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli or any other Indian star.
“It was Games Unlimited (Sports Management Enterprise) which helped us get in touch with these two young Indian players. We sponsor Vijay and Karun and they endorse our products," he was quoted as saying by Times of India.
With some of the modern day greats of the game using their brand, Wilton said that the bat maker was now focusing on Indian cricketers to make their appeal even larger. "We have a lot of international players who use our brand in Indian Premier League and promote it. Now we have our products in the dressing room of an Indian team. We will keenly follow the India-England Test series," he said.
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He also went on to state that they decided to sign Karun Nair after England cricketer Sam Billings notified them about his talent following his stint with the Delhi Daredevils franchise in the IPL where both the players played together.
"We have been tracking Karun for a couple of years. Sam and Karun developed a good relationship during their stint with Delhi. Sam highlighted him as a very good player. As soon as the announcement was made, he told us that we have signed an excellent cricketer," Wilton said.
With Nike pulling out of the sponsorship deal with the Indians, one has to believe that Gray-Nicolls has timed its entry perfectly.