It’s an 18th century game, which an 87-year-old Indian company continues to lord over. We are referring to Meerut-based Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), the country’s biggest exporter of cricket gear by value and the largest manufacturer of cricketing equipment by volume in the world. SG found a new lease of life back home with the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Despite major sports brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok wading into the cricket gear market, SG has held its ground and today has an unassailable lead. It continues to be the prime supplier to the world’s richest cricketing board, the BCCI. Its ability to spot talent and nurture them has been phenomenal — there are 12 international cricketers, 25 IPL players, 100 first class cricketers sponsored by SG. It is now looking to diversify by launching sports training apparel. Although a highly competitive market, SG’s ability to create a niche might just work for it.
A man carefully binds two halves of a leather ball with a needle and thick thread. Seated on a high stool, he is engrossed. Similarly, scores of workers are busy working in this large airy room, performing a variety of tasks — cutting leather, finishing it, fitting the halves over the core of the ball. The precision with which the workers go about their work clearly shows the job at hand is more of a craft. And this is the cricket ball section of the Meerut-based Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), the largest cricket equipment maker in the world.
While the enterprise churns out thousands of cricket bats, balls, wickets, pads, kits, and other accessories, its hallmark is the handmade ball. One such ball created history. Paras Anand, director, SG, can’t forget that day. “It was one of the greatest moments; not just for cricket and India, but even for SG. It was one of our handmade balls with which Anil Kumble took all the 10 wickets against Pakistan in February 1999 at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi.” SG willows, too, find a place in cricketing history. The company sells 350,000 bats a year now. Legends such as Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, and Virender Sehwag have played with SG bats for decades. Gavaskar scored his 10,000th