Cricket has a willow heart. Batmakers around the world have tried everything, crafting bats from birch, maple, ash, even poplars . . . After two hundred years, cricket bat making is still beholden to a single species: Salix alba caerulea - or white willow. Reader Cricket Bats, one of the last traditional batmakers back in England, has a contemporary home in the Antipodes, with Allan Reader keeping the family business alive in a small workshop in Melbourne.
When Todd Harrow, a gifted young batter, catches Allan's eye, a spark is lit and Allan decides to make a Reader bat for him, selecting the best piece of willow he's harvested in years to do so.
As Harrow charts a meteoric rise to the highest echelons of the sport, leaving his equally talented sister's dreams in his wake, Allan's magical bat takes centre stage as well, awakening something in him. But can Allan's fledgling renaissance - hanging as it does on the magic of that bat - carry on after Harrow is stricken by injury and a strained personal life?Set as the new short form of the game began to gain prominence, Willowman is a love letter to the art and beauty of cricket and a meditation on the inner lives of certain kinds of men and women, for whom it is a way of life. Award-winning author Inga Simpson writes exquisitely about a national sport you will never view the same way again.