Angus Fraser: Baggy green or a quick buck? No choice at all for Australia's heroes

For almost 20 years English cricket has been in awe of the "baggy green", the ugly-looking cap Australians proudly wear when they play Tests. For an Australian there is supposedly no greater honour, the headgear being a symbol of everything that is good in the country. The team have been known to wear it in the evenings after famous Test victories; on one occasion they were even seen donning them at Wimbledon, to show support for and to motivate an Australian tennis player.

How the England cricket team of the 1990s could have done with something similar. Cricketers are by nature a selfish breed but the grandeur of the baggy green has kept the Australians under control. Wearing it is deemed to be more important than the performance, emotion or circumstances of any individual. New Zealand, under Stephen Fleming, attempted to create something similar, inviting a great achiever from the country to present the team with their "black caps" before every Test.

But the actions of, and comments recently made by, members of these teams, many of whom have signed up to lucrative Twenty20 leagues in India, suggest the reverence attached to these garments has been nothing more than a charade, an empty gesture created to make people believe that representing their country meant everything. The baggy green or black cap appears to have a price.

Cricket Australia is understandably wary about releasing top players for six weeks so that they can fill their pockets by performing at an Indian circus. But the Australian board is equally concerned with damaging its lucrative relationship with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the organisers of the Indian Premier League.

No international coach would want his players to play in such a tournament in the middle of such a hectic schedule – Australia are due to play 19 Tests and at least 25 one-dayers in 2008. It is his job to ensure that each player is as fit, fresh and as fired up as he possibly can be for every international match Australia play.

Tim Nielson, the Australian coach, and his selectors will be delighted that Michael Clarke, tipped by many to be the next Australian captain, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin have turned down offers to join the IPL so they can manage the cricket they play and focus on their developing international careers. Rest is a crucial part of the procedure. But many members of Ricky Ponting's side are prepared to forgo a break – time off that would improve the team's chances of success – to earn millions of rupees on the subcontinent.

There are genuine safety and security issues surrounding Australia's coming tour of Pakistan but there seems greater urgency from the players to get the tour called off now that IPL contracts have been signed. The abandonment of the Pakistan tour would be convenient, giving the players extra time off and allowing them not to feel quite so guilty about playing in India.

These do not appear to be the actions of men whose sole desire is to represent their country. It is the behaviour of mercenaries desperately wanting to dip their noses in the trough. If the focus of these players was totally on playing for Australia they would not even consider placing themselves in such a compromised position. The hypocrisy of the players' union should not be ignored too. Players' representatives are constantly complaining about the volume of cricket played; now they are pushing CA to release players for more.

The most damning assessment of the situation came from Andrew Symonds, the outstanding Australia all-rounder who will play in the IPL. "The way things are heading, loyalty is really going to become a major issue, particularly when you can make more money in six or eight weeks than you can in a whole season," he said. "Who wouldn't be tempted to take a job offering more money for less work?

"They [the game's administrators] need to be able to find a way to work with the IPL so everyone's available. Otherwise you are going to have blokes retiring early or just saying: 'Look, it's not worth the heartache. I can earn more money in a short period of time'."

Jeez, Australian cricket fans must be proud of him. If the attitude of cricketers is to "cash in" when they reach a certain age, perhaps the game would be better off without them. Let them play in an irrelevant tournament in India and hand international cricket over to vibrant youngsters with a point to prove.

Suggested Topics
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game