Bring back the Don’s cap, and onya the Black Caps

The streak is over. Australia’s run of twenty-one successive one-day wins has been cut down by the West Indies in Trinidad this morning. Which is a good moment to spare a thought for the New Zealand cricket team.

The Kiwis defeated Pakistan in the Sri Lankan town of Dambulla on Friday to win the Bank Alfalah Cup. This would be a totally forgettable event if it were not for the fact that this was the second time New Zealand had won a one-day cricket tournament. That’s the second time ever. In three decades of trying. Onya Kiwis.

Meanwhile, the Murdoch Media are once more exploiting the name of The Late Don to sell newspapers.

The “Bring Home Bradman’s Cap” campaign, launched last week, has been set up by News Ltd to raise funds to buy Sir Don’s baggy green cap which he wore on his last Ashes tour of England as Australian captain in 1948. Bradman gave the cap away, as he did all his baggy green caps after he was finished with them, to an English friend after the tour was over.

The current, unnamed, British owner has put the cap up for auction, to be conducted by sports memorabilia specialists Ludgrove’s in London in July.

The Murdoch Empire has invited readers of their papers to deposit money into the “News Ltd Bringing Home Bradman’s Cap” account at the National Australia Bank so that, to quote today’s Daily Telegraph, “all Australians could share in an exceptional life, an exceptional part of Australian history and the masterpiece of sports memorabilia, by helping to bring Sir Don’s cap home.” The cap, according to the Tele, would go into the stewardship of the Australian Cricket Board, and be put on display across the country.

The Don’s cap won’t come cheap. His baggy green from Australia’s 1947-48 Test series against India set a new world record for cricket memorabilia when it was sold last February for an amount somewhere between $200-500,000. Because of the history and the sentiment surrounding the 1948 Ashes – the “Invincibles” tour, as the memorabilia people call it these days – this latest cap on the market is expected to set a new record.

Which begs a question: Why couldn’t Australia’s No.1 public company in terms of market capitalisation simply buy the bloody thing itself rather than putting the hand out for public (non-tax deductible) donations?

And shouldn’t they be making it clearer to their readers that the money is going towards a bid to buy the cap at auction, and that purchase is not guaranteed? (What, indeed, will happen to the proceeds of the appeal if the bid is unsuccessful?)

The website of the auctioneers throws up even more questions about the motives behind the Murdoch Empire’s campaign.

On visiting the home page on www.ludgroves.com this morning, Lumpy was greeted with a pop-up window showing an image of The Don’s 1948 Baggy Green, and a publicity blurb for the News Limited campaign, even using verbatim some of the same text that has been used in the Murdoch wrappers for the past week. There’s even a spruik from Ludgroves director Graham Halbish who, as it happens, was CEO of the Australian Cricket Board in the mid-1990s.

An auctioneer promoting the cause of a corporate bidder who is trying to solicit public funds to buy an item at one of its auctions. Which brings us back to today’s Tele, where Australians are reminded “not to be complacent”. Private collectors from England and the sub-continent, we are told, are preparing “considerable bids”.

Yes indeedy, rush on down today to your local NAB and Bring Bradman’s Cap Home!

One last footnote about The Don’s 1947-48 Baggy Green that was sold earlier this year – also by Ludgrove’s. The buyer’s identity has not been disclosed, except to say that he is a “cricket-loving New South Wales businessman in his 30s”. If you happen to see Jamie Packer with an old green cloth thing on his head at a cocktail party, please let me know.

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