Melbourne, June 25 : Former Australian cricket Test captain Allan Border's baggy green cap will be auctioned here Thursday night, and is expected to fetch upwards of 15,000 dollars.
The reason for the cap's sale is that its owner, Keith Attree, a cricket memorabilia collector, has decided to part with it.
According to news.com.au, Attree is unwell and suffering the effects of a stroke, but his decision to sell the baggy green has become a cause for debate.
There is no more iconic item in Australian sport. For the best part of three decades, Australian cricket Test teams have been settled sides with minimal change. To break into the all-conquering Australian Test team is an achievement in itself. It is a feat recognised in the awarding of a baggy green cap.
When Border gave Attree one of his caps, he probably did not expect the former West Australian change room attendant to sell it.
The question now being asked of Cricket Australia is that should it issue a caveat that baggy greens are never to be sold?
The selling of baggy greens is not without precedent. In 2003, Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles cap fetched 425,000 dollars at auction. The 122 recorded sales of the baggy green have achieved two million dollars.
The baggy green was elevated beyond a mere status symbol under the captaincy of Steve Waugh. It came to represent national spirit and Australian resoluteness.
So revered has the baggy green become among players that, since 2001, before the cap is presented, a ceremony is held on the morning of the Test and the debut player is inducted into the arcane significance of the baggy green.
As an illustration of this, in the past touring cricketers received a cap even if they had not played a Test. Simon Katich had a green baggy but did not wear it until his first Test.
More recently, the Australian Test team in the West Indies last month opted not to wear the baggy green in a match against a Jamaican team. The reason was that Brad Haddin, who played in the match, had not yet played a Test, and therefore, did not have his baggy green. Instead the team wore a cap with the insignia of sponsor Victoria Bitter.
Reaction was swift. Former Test batsman Keith Stackpole expressed his disappointment. "There are certain things that should be sacred. You are representing Australia and not VB," he said.
Former Test player Neil Harvey observed that if Australian players did not wear the baggy green, then "they shouldn't wear anything".