Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Ashes advent calendar: The Baggy Green

The Baggy Green Cap is surely the most revered article of clothing in Australian sport. Worn by the Australians since the turn of the twentieth century, the cap is an evolution of the traditional English eight-panelled woollen cricket cap, and features a pre-federation version of the Australian coat of arms.

Originally the Baggy Green started out as a conventional English-style dark green peaked skullcap with gold trim, then in the 1920s evolved into today's familiar shape. Until relatively recently a squad member was given one or two caps on every tour, and they were not the subject of the same pride and care that they are today - at least two former Australian cricketers wore the caps while performing routine household chores such as painting.

That changed in the early 1990s under the captaincy of Mark Taylor, and he and Steve Waugh co-authored the three key traditions linked to the Baggy Green. Firstly, despite there being nothing formally stopping a player from seeking a replacement, it became standard practise for players to only ever wear one Baggy Green throughout their Test career, with the tatty and faded nature of some of the more experienced players' caps coming to symbolise their seniority in the team. Secondly, each new recipient now receives his Baggy Green in a brief ceremony before the start of play where his cap is given to him by a significant Australian cricketer such as Ritchie Benaud. Finally, it is traditional for all eleven players to wear their Baggy Greens during the first session of a Test Match.

In financial terms the most valuable Baggy Green was a cap belonging to Donald Bradman that was sold at auction for £175,000 in 2003, but ask any modern Australian cricketer how much his is worth, and he'll tell you it's priceless.

Did you know: Baggy Greens are manufactured by a New South Wales company called Albion, which is ironically the oldest known name for the British Isles.

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