The state of Steve Smith’s baggy green has raised a debate on social media over whether his well-worn cap is a sign of “disrespect for a national icon”.
Standing in as captain for Australia’s huge win in the second Test of the series against the West Indies, Smith was pictured wearing his rather tattered baggy green.
Having 88 Tests under his belt since 2010, Smith’s baggy green is a little worse for wear.
Fabric had worn off the brim and hours and days of toil in the field for his country have taken its toll on the iconic cricket cap, with some asking if Smith should get a replacement.
The baggy green is arguably the cricket world’s most iconic symbol and the reverence for the cap and its meaning representing the honour of playing for Australia at Test level has only grown over the decades.
Aussie cricketers used to be awarded a new cap for each tour and there is no rule for players not to get a replacement from Cricket Australia. But players see the more dilapidated the cap, the more senior the player.
But there were plenty of fans who slammed Smith for his treatment of the iconic symbol.
On Twitter, one fans asked “is the shabby look of Steve Smiths Baggy Green a bad look?” while others labelled it “terrible”, “looks like it’s been chewed by his dog” and “even more putrid than what West Indies have served up in the last 2 tests.”
Another said it was “Such disrespect for a national icon”, while another tweeted: “Why accept this defacing of an iconic and treasured garment of national pride? Please do better.”
However, former Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri defended Smith’s look.
Smith is not alone in having a cap that looked like it had been through the ringer.
Former captain and 168-Test veteran Steve Waugh, who has been at least partially credited with the high esteem the baggy green is held in as well as the practice of not replacing his cap, famously needed to have his restored in 2002 before his retirement in 2004.
Former captain Ricky Ponting had a similar issue, only repairing his baggy green when the peak was about to fall off.
Baggy green manufacturer Albion’s master seamstress Myung Park saved both captains’ precious caps.
But while millions of children dream of one day earning a baggy green and all it represents, not everyone revers the cap like Waugh, Ponting and Smith.
Late cricket legend Shane Warne had a long-running feud with Waugh over a team trip to Wimbledon in 2001 when the skipper called for all the Aussie players to wear their baggy green in support of Pat Rafter in the tournament final.
But Warne, who preferred a white wide-brim hat in the field, called it “the ultimate embarrassment”.
“We went to watch Pat Rafter at Wimbledon — and he wanted the whole team to wear it. And I looked at Mark Waugh and he said ‘I am not wearing that’,” Warne told BBC Radio in 2018.
“So the guys (who) idolised Steve Waugh, Langer, Hayden, Gilchrist, those type of guys, all wore the baggy green cap to Wimbledon. It makes me puke to think that these grown men wore green baggy caps to Wimbledon! So I refused.
“Looking back at some of those photos … it was embarrassing to watch.”
Warne also auctioned his baggy green for more than $1m in 2020 to raise money for the bushfire appeal.
Warne said later in 2020: “I always believed that you didn’t have to wear the baggy green cap to say how much you loved playing cricket for Australia.
“I loved playing cricket for Australia, and I didn’t need to wear that cap or have that verbal diarrhoea about it, I just enjoyed playing cricket for Australia.
“I always felt that if I wore a white floppy hat or wore my Baggy Green cap it meant exactly the same, I was playing for Australia.”
Glenn Maxwell said if he made the Aussie Test team again, he would need a “new one” after it “completely disintegrated” in storage, while Mark Waugh revealed his baggy green had been “eaten by a rat” while stored in a safe.
And while there have been plenty of captains who have revered the baggy green, Ian Chappell had a very different take, reportedly previously saying: “It is a $5 bit of cloth”.
“I haven’t got one, haven’t had one since the day I finished. I don’t need to look at an Australian cap to remind me of what I did,” he previously told the Herald Sun.
Story Credit: news.com.au