To make a cricket bat you first need some quality willow. The best bats in the world are made from English willow due to the perfect growing conditions in the UK. Other species such as Kashmiri willow grown in the sub-continent are drier and more brittle.
Willow is a tough fibrous wood which grows best in wet soils. Each tree is harvested between 15 and 20 years old and after felling, is cut into rounds of approximately 30 to 40 inches. These rounds are then split following the natural splits in the trunks. Each round is split into roughly 8 to 10 clefts, and then into blades which are stacked to allow the wood to dry. This process is usually done in kilns.
After drying, the willow is graded from Pro to grade 4, with grading being purely cosmetic, not necessarily based on performance. Brands usually prefer cosmetic perfection, hence the desire for the highest grade.