Sydney: Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne’s prized ‘baggy green’ cap raised more than A$ 1 million ($686,000) Friday for bushfire relief efforts after the former leg-spinner donated it for auction.
Twenty-seven people have been killed and thousands made homeless in recent months as huge fires scorched through more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land, an area the size of South Korea.
Several towns and communities in the heavily populated southeastern states of Victoria and New South Wales have been advised to be alert and evacuate if needed.
Warne is Test cricket’s second-most successful bowler with 708 wickets in 145 tests, behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800.
The baggy green is presented to Australian players when they make their test debut and they receive just one for their entire career. He donated the cap to an online auction site Monday.
The auction closed at 10.00am Friday with a final public bid of A$ 1,007,500.
“Unbelievable… so generous from everyone. Totally blown away,” Warne said on Twitter shortly before the auction closed.
The auction attracted global interest and the price eclipsed the A$ 425,000 achieved by the late Don Bradman’s baggy green when it was sold in 2003.
“We have been overwhelmed and it is a fantastic result,” Marc Cheah, head of marketing for auctioneers ‘Pickles’ said.
“Other baggy greens have been auctioned and Don Bradman’s got $425,000 about 15 years ago, but the Don is the Don. He’s the greatest cricketer that ever lived,” Cheah said in relation to the widely held recognition Bradman was the best batsman the game has produced.
“But Shane is also right up there and that drove a lot of traffic and momentum, while the cause is also very worthwhile,” Cheah added.
Warne, 50, is one of many local and international athletes to support the fundraising for bushfire victims with several cricketers promising to donate a sum based on the number of sixes they hit in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 competition.
Tennis players in the country for tournaments ahead of the Australian Open also promised to donate money for the number of aces they serve, while Australian players in the NBA have committed $ 750,000 to bushfire relief.
Six-time Formula One (F1) World Champion Lewis Hamilton has said that he has donated $500,000 towards the rescue and care of wildlife caught in the bushfires.
The Briton, who has adopted a vegan lifestyle and become outspoken on the environment, posted a clip on social media of a scorched koala being tended to against a backdrop of smoke and flames.
“It saddens me deeply to know that over 1 billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault,” commented the Mercedes driver. “My love of animals is no secret and I can’t help but grieve for the defenceless animals thought to have died so far, pushing certain species closer to extinction,” Hamilton added and informed that he was donating the amount to Wires Wildlife Rescue, WWF Australia and Rural Fire Services.