By any measure - it was an incredible piece of historically significant, sweat-soaked cricket memorabilia, for which some canny or mad collector was prepared to pay a premium. Cricket has long been irresistible for those who ache to own a piece of its rich and eccentric history. It may be a hat, a bat, a ball or manuscript; indeed anything that is part of the great narrative of the game.
Free Hit The voices of Spring You could have set the clock to it. Just around the time India's cricketers are calling home and asking wives, mothers and other responsible parties to locate their passports, Australia, rather parts of its press-pack, have, in a stirring show of loyalty, already opened the bowling.
A headline early last week set the tone: "Indian money threatens Aussie team".
But hey, come on, the Indian team is going to be touring Australia soon, let's identify the enemy here, shall we? Paint the target nice and big.
Even before the Australian coach has presented his blueprint for annhilation, a section of the press inevitably, but mystifyingly journalists usually prefer skepticism over cheerleading , steps up to show off its Baggy Green badges.
The day Sachin Tendulkar was ruled out of the Bangalore Test, came another worthy crow: "It's official: India are unfit. That's not a story.
A story is something people don't already know. See, not letting facts get in the way, either. The last time India toured Australia, they were so injured and fatigued not to mention scared, afraid to play shots and fast bowling that they finished the series and nearly spoilt Steve Waugh's drawn-out, self-indulgent and self-imposed farewell party.
But this is just the drum roll. Bishen Bedi's already been sought out to express his reservations about Harbhajan Singh's action. Any time now, there should be something out on that other Aussie favourite, Sourav Ganguly, that convenient myth about how he comes from a royal family and so he doesn't carry the can Andrew Symonds will resume his principled opposition to Porsches being given to just about anyone.
A few former Aussie players will weigh in with astute socio-cultural observations. Then, and only then, will the Indian tour be ready to begin. Make no mistake, Australia is a lovely country. The natives are friendly.
They know how to stage cricket matches. They even know how to play the game. Nobody has taken cricket to where Australia has, which would be stratospheric.
Hell, nobody has taken cricket memorabilia to where they have. Which would lie somewhere between the realms of opportunistic and tacky. It's just that this--the weeks before a tour of Australia--is such a nostalgic time, it can make you all dewy-eyed. It has become such a part of the Australian touring experience, it's a mystery that Channel 9 has no memorabilia around it.
It is almost like the first stirrings of spring.
When the first waves of hot air and echoes of ritual chest-thumping reach distant shores. When the designated trumpet-masters for the Australian team observe a time-honoured tradition.
To present all visiting cricketers as worthless, gutless, talentless and technically and mentally inadequate. It's a wonder that when touring teams first land in Australia, they are not met by large crowds at Sydney's Kingsford Smith International demanding they go home.