January 9, 2020 / 11:51 PM / 15 days ago

Cricket-Warne's 'baggy green' sale raises A$1m for bushfire victims

SYDNEY, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Australia’s Shane Warne’s prized “baggy green” cap raised more than A$1 million on Friday for bushfire relief efforts across the states of Victoria and New South Wales after the former leg-spinner donated it for auction.

Twenty-seven people have been killed and thousands made homeless as the 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 region of the country 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 on Monday.

The auction closed at 10 a.m. (2300 GMT) on Friday with a final public bid of A$1,007,500 ($691,000).

“Unbelievable ... so generous from everyone. Totally blown away,” Warne said on Twitter shortly before the auction closed and as the cap edged toward the A$1 million mark.

The price eclipsed the A$425,000 achieved by the late Don Bradman’s baggy green when it was sold in 2003.

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 commited$750,000 to bushfire relief.

Six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday he was donating $500,000 towards the rescue and care of wildlife caught in the bushfires.

Local sports organisations have also organised fundraising drives at sporting events, while tennis greats Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams have committed to an exhibition ahead of the Jan. 20-Feb. 2 Australian Open. ($1 = 1.4588 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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