The ‘Batman of Mumbai,’ Aslam Chaudhry, is a wonderful artisan who lives in the bustling city of Mumbai, where cricket is a highly valued institution and luminaries such as Sachin Tendulkar have graced the pitch. Chaudhry is a real-life hero in a world of made-up superheroes, using his expertise to make bespoke cricket bats for some of the biggest stars in the game, including the legendary Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar.
The tale of Aslam Chaudhry’s entry into the cricket bat industry is one of custom and heritage. Located on a quiet side street in Bombay, Chaudhry’s workshop serves as the hub of M. Ashraf Bros, a bat manufacturing company his father founded in the late 1920s. This heritage attests to the unmatched skill and commitment that have been inherited by the succeeding generations.
Photographs of cricket luminaries such as Sachin Tendulkar, a longstanding customer and maybe the greatest batsman in cricket history, decorate Chaudhry’s workshop. But Chaudhry isn’t the only celebrity who has given Chaudhry his prized cricket bats; Tendulkar is one of them. Both Kane Williamson of New Zealand and contemporary maestro Virat Kohli have looked to Chaudhry’s workmanship to make sure their bats live up to their high expectations.
A batsman’s weaponry is crucial in professional cricket, where every run matters. No one knows this better than Chaudhry. He attends to the particular needs and preferences of every batter. The exact measurements of weight, thickness, and form are made to fit the player’s preferences and playing style.
Chaudhry’s method is a monument to the skill of handcrafting, in contrast to bats that are mass-produced. He starts with a thick, unfinished split of willow, which he meticulously shapes and sharpens to the correct shape. The player’s grip is made pleasant and secure by the precise cutting of each handle groove.
Even though Chaudhry’s workmanship is rooted in tradition, he doesn’t hesitate to use contemporary technology in key areas. To help with the operation, Chaudhry spins a giant flywheel while the bat is positioned using an electronic conveyor. A five-ton weight is powered by this flywheel and is utilised to reinforce the wood, making the finished product responsive and robust.
Despite the fact that Chaudhry’s abilities are in great demand, he works in Mumbai, a city that is passionate about cricket. This presents the “Bat-Man of India” with a special task. Many cricket players are afraid to attend his workshop because of Mumbai’s passionate cricket fans and intense fan base. It’s understandable to be afraid of being surrounded by devoted followers.
Chaudhry goes straight to the players with his services in order to get around this. Whether they are sleeping at a hotel or rehearsing at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, he pays them a visit. For those who put in the work, like Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka, the experience offers more than just skill with the bat—it’s a window into the soul of Indian cricket fans.
Chaudhry is getting close to becoming 70 years old, but his dedication to the work hasn’t wavered. Not even a game of COVID-19 could stop his commitment. His enduring reputation as the ‘Bat-Man of India’ is a testament to his skill as a craftsman, and it only gets better with time.
In cricket, where minute details may mean the difference between winning and losing, Aslam Chaudhry is a living example of the quest for excellence. In addition to being sought after by both cricket luminaries and up-and-coming talents, his handmade bats are pieces of art that reflect the passion and commitment of a real master.