Cricket’s World Cup has been one of the major sporting events of this summer taking place in cricket’s great venues in England and Wales. It’s a tournament which presents a glorious opportunity for collectors and lovers of the game to grab some genuine cricket relics.
Cricket creates a vast emporium of memorabilia because professional players require mountains of kit. It means there is a thriving market for bats, balls, gloves, pads, caps and stumps.
As ever, value is linked to provenance. Who used that bat?
Which Test match was that stump used in?
Who signed that programme?
There are examples galore but my favourite is how, in 2000, the historic bat used by West Indian legend Sir Garfield Sobers to hit six sixes in a single over against Glamorgan in 1968 sold at auction for £54,257.
Another bat Sobers used when he broke the world record for single Test match innings (365 against Pakistan in 1958) sold for £46,800
Fiery Fred’s ball of fire worth tens of thousands!
When the cricket ball with which England’s fast bowler Fred Trueman bowled his 300th Test wicket was first sold it raised £10,000. It might not sound much, but that was in 1964 so it would be worth ten times that if it came up today.
Fortunately, there are thousands of other items of cricket memorabilia, or “cricketana” as it is known in collectology circles.
From its origins as a simple rural pastime, cricket has been a recognised sport since the 18th century, and over the years its collectable by-products have included books, artworks, photography, ceramics, score cards, cigarette cards and players’ personal effects.
If the cap fits
The Cricket Memorabilia Society is a body which invites former Test players to sign their kit, and helps co-ordinate auctions round the country. Collectologists should follow the activities of the CMS. They will learn that not all valuable collectables are attached to the big names.
Keith Hayhurst, CMS’s President is the owner of a cap belonging to batsman Richard Barlow of Lancashire. When an Australian captain was impressed by Barlow’s batting in the 1880s, he said: “I take my cap off to you”. The expression became part of everyday language.
Modern cricketing treasures are often for sale via the internet. But there are other ways to acquire cricketana. Perhaps it’s possible to link up with a current or recently retired professional and see what they have stored in their loft.
Urns are not the real deal
Do not be fooled by anyone offering up the “original” Ashes urn, a 10cm-high terracotta cup containing burnt wicket bails that once symbolised “the death” of English cricket after a mauling by the Australians.
Whilst there are hundreds of these replicas, including the one presented to any winning team at the end of series, the authentic trophy – a small relic dating back to 1883 – is kept at the MCC museum at Lord’s cricket ground and will never be up for auction.
Signed Shane Warne ball for £125
Often signed memorabilia pop-up unexpectedly on the Internet. There are some gems out there. Balls signed by the King of Spin, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were recently up for grabs at £125.
David Gower’s sleeveless England sweater was available at £175 and a signed photo of Phil Tufnell taken years long before he became King of the Jungle was marked at £70.
England hero and former opening batsman Graham Gooch signed many novelty cricket bats which sell for £60 and more. The value of cricket memorabilia apparently knows no boundaries.
The Don’s £175,000 baggie
Don Bradman is one of the greatest batsman of all time, with a 99.94 batting average. When Australia toured England in 1948 and won all 34 games, the team earned themselves the nickname “the Invincibles”. The cap that Bradman wore during this tour was sold for £175,375 at Charles Leski Auctions in 2008.
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