Shane Warne decided to auction his baggy green cap in order to raise funds for the victims of the Australian Bushfires during the Sydney Test against New Zealand. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
When the Australian bushfire menace was at the peak of it's destruction, many sporting personalities in the country decided to do their bit to tackle the raging menace. Shane Warne was one of them. The Australian legspinner, considered one of the greatest bowlers in the world, played 145 Tests and took 708 wickets, decided to auction his baggy green cricket cap in order to raise funds. During the New Year Test in Sydney between Australia and New Zealand, Warne had tweeted, "The horrific bushfires in Australia have left us all in disbelief. The impact these devastating fires are having on so many people is unthinkable and has touched us all. Lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed and over 500 million animals have died too. Everyone is in this together and we continue to find ways to contribute and help on a daily basis. This has lead me to auction of my beloved baggy green cap (350) that I wore throughout my test career (when I wasn’t wearing my white floppy hat). I hope my baggy green can raise some significant funds to help all those people that are in desperate need. Please go to the link in my bio and make a bid & help me to donate a big cheque ! Thankyou so much."
In the four days ever since the announcement, the baggy green cap raked in huge numbers during the auction. It went past 500,000 Australian Dollars and the biddng war intensified. With just one hour to go for the auctionto close, the bid went above 1 million Australian dollars. In the end, after a late bidding war, the price was Australian Dollars 1,007,500.
It far exceeded the Australian Dollars 425,000 paid at auction for the cap belonging to the legendary Donald Bradman when that was sold for charity in 2003. "Thank you so much to everyone that placed a bid & a huge Thank you/ congrats to the successful bidder - you have blown me away with your generosity and this was way beyond my expectations," Warne tweeted. "The money will go direct to the Red Cross bushfire appeal. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you."
After the auction, there was some confusion following the auction. According to a report in Cricket Australia, social media had lit up with speculation the anonymous buyer listed on the auction house website as 'MC of Sydney' was former cricket captain Michael Clarke, a close friend of Warne. However, it was revealed to be The Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn, Australia's biggest lender, was revealed as the winning bidder. Comyn said the cap would go on a tour of the country to raise more money before being donated to the Bradman Museum in Bowral, southwest of Sydney, where it will remain on permanent exhibit.
"I want to thank and commend Shane for giving up one of his most cherished possessions for such an important cause. He has demonstrated the same Aussie spirit we are seeing across the country with acts of generosity and dedication throughout this disaster," Comyn said.
Sports stars from around the world have stumped up memorabilia and cash to help pay for relief efforts in Australia's unprecedented bushfire emergency. Reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton pledged USD 500,000 on Thursday, saying that he had been deeply saddened by reports that over a billion animals had been killed in the fires.
Shane Warne's baggy green auction was the highest ever, breaking the earlier auction record set by Don Bradman. (Image credit: Shane Warne Twitter)
Warne's fellow cricketers Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell and D'Arcy Short have also pledged to donate Australian Dollar 250 for every six they smash during the ongoing Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament. Top tennis players have also got involved, with Serena Williams auctioning off a dress she wore on the court at this week's WTA Auckland Classic.
A "Rally for Relief" exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne featuring Williams and Roger Federer is due to take place next week ahead of the Australian Open to raise further funds. World number one Ashleigh Barty donated her winnings from this week's Brisbane International to the Red Cross, although she was knocked out at the first hurdle. Fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios, among others, has promised Australian Dollar 200 for each ace he serves during the home summer of tennis.
-With Agency Inputs-