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Monday, May 19, 2008

Australian cap controversy no small beer


What is an Australian cricket cap?

Peter Lalor in today's Australian reports


Test cap or Australian cap?

Cricket Australia claims that respect for the baggy green, rather than a lack of it, led to the controversial decision by the national team to wear a cap with a beer logo on it during a tour match in the West Indies.

The game's governing body claims that an evolution in the tradition of the baggy green has meant that it is now regarded almost exclusively as a Test cap.

The team has been accused of "selling out" by past players over the incident.

In the past, the cap was given to anybody who represented Australia, regardless of whether it was a tour, one-day or Test match.

Adam Gilchrist was awarded a baggy green for his one-day debut in England, but was given another, which he values more, on his Test debut.

Cricket Australia said yesterday the touring side decided not to wear the baggy green as wicket-keeper Brad Haddin had not been awarded one, so his teammates opted to wear the training cap with a sponsor's logo instead out of solidarity and "respect for the baggy green".

"It is believed that since 2001, and due to the evolution of the importance of the baggy green within Australian cricket circles, no non-Test player has been awarded a baggy green until they've been selected to play Test cricket for Australia," a spokesman for Cricket Australia said.

"Having reviewed various public and media comments, Cricket Australia has accepted that in the future a 'fitted green' cap may need to be developed so that players who have not yet represented Australia in Test cricket may wear an appropriate green felt cap, which is different from the baggy green, in Australia tour matches."

Cricket Australia's website now claims

Cricket Australia has clarified the circumstances surrounding the caps worn by players during the opening game of the West Indies Tour.

Brad Haddin, who has not yet been selected to play Test cricket for Australia, was ineligible to wear the baggy green cap, which is only presented to players on the morning of their Test debut. In these circumstances it was decided that in the interests of team uniformity (and out of respect for the baggy green) all players would wear the same cap, the blue Cricket Australia training cap, which bears the sponsors mark. It is believed that since 2001, and due to the evolution of the importance of the baggy green within Australian cricket circles, no non-Test player has been awarded a baggy green until they've been selected to play Test cricket for Australia.

Therefore, during the first day's play in the opening tour match of the West Indies tour all fielders took the field either wearing their blue cricket Australia training cap or a Cricket Australia 'white floppy' brimmed hat.

Having reviewed various public and media comment Cricket Australia has accepted that in the future a 'fitted green' cap may need to be developed so that players who have not yet represented Australia in Test cricket may wear an appropriate green felt cap, that is different from the baggy green, in Australia tour matches. (In the past few years some Australia 'A' teams have been awarded 'fitted greens').

Due to these special circumstances, during the second innings of the current tour game the Australian players are wearing baggy green caps, if they are eligible to wear them, or a Cricket Australia floppy white hat, rather than the blue training cap. Brad Haddin may wear his Australia one-day cap while keeping wicket.

You'd think that CA could have foreseen something like this arising and headed the matter off at the pass, especially as one of its directors, Peter Warner, according to his profile on its website has "worked in the sports footwear/apparel industry for 25 years involving various major brands". Does he have a conflict of interest in this matter, I wonder?

I'm disappointed, though not surprised, that CA has been so toothless on this matter, at least until now, when external pressure seems to have prompted a change.

It seems willing to bend the truth wherever there's a buck to be made. Another example is the Foxtel ad on its website claiming
"Catch every ball of the VB Tour of the West Indies live on Fox Sports." This is false as Fox Sports has not telecast any of the game in which the players wore the unofficial caps promoting the series sponsor. Nor has CA apparently been able to state whether the three day match (click on link to see scorecard etc) has been given first class status.
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