‘You feel invincible’: What it’s like to get a baggy green

Travis Head is congratulated by Peter Siddle after receiving his Baggy Green cap from Nathan Lyon. (Picture: Getty)
Travis Head is congratulated by Peter Siddle after receiving his Baggy Green cap from Nathan Lyon. (Picture: Getty)

AUSTRALIA'S Test team began a new chapter under the leadership duo of captain Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer on Sunday in Dubai, and fittingly it began with the handing out of three new baggy greens.

Aaron Finch, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head each completed childhood dreams against Pakistan, making their Test debuts.

Seen as a leader in the side, Finch received his coveted cap from one Australia's greatest ever captains in Allan Border, while Labuschagne was handed his by Mike Hussey.

Nathan Lyon presented Head his baggy green, with the pair enjoying a tight bond after sharing a dressing room at South Australia before Lyon left South Australia for NSW.

"That is the best moment in your sporting career," former Test fast bowler Brett Lee said.

"When you slip that over your head you feel invincible. That's the moment when you enjoy it and embrace it and the hard work starts."

High on the sweet emotion of the triple baggy green presentation before play, it wasn't long until the harsh reality of the grind facing Australia was rammed home.

Peter Siddle reacts on a tough morning of the First Test between Australia and Pakistan. Picture: Getty
Peter Siddle reacts on a tough morning of the First Test between Australia and Pakistan. Picture: Getty

Amid a non-existent atmosphere, in front of empty stands Pakistan won the toss and batted first, and immediately Australia were coming from behind in searing 37 degree heat.

No Steve Smith, no David Warner and a million miles from home, Australia found themselves back in the frying pan.

Test matches in Dubai often go until the last day, but Australia's rookie squad will need to fight for every scrap.

At lunch on day one, Pakistan were 0-89 and in a position to cause some serious damage.

The hosts made their intentions clear from the get go as they sat on Lyon and instead went after Australia's second spinner Jon Holland.

Jon Holland had a difficult opening session in the first Test. Picture: Getty
Jon Holland had a difficult opening session in the first Test. Picture: Getty

Holland went at nearly 5.5 an over for his first six overs, and was under pressure to put the Pakistan batsmen back in their place.

Lyon barely gave an inch in contrast and is set for an enormous load over the coming days on a dry and barren wicket.

Pakistan's charge was led by Mohammad Hafeez, who wasn't even selected in Mickey Arthur's original 18-man squad.

Rushed in at the last moment, Hafeez was 48 not out at lunch and looking to add further misery after destroying Australia with the ball four years ago on the corresponding tour.

At the other end, Imam-ul-Haq, newphew of the great Inzamam-ul-Haq pushed to 36 not out by the break.

Even though Dubai is a neutral venue, the non-existent crowd was a stark reminder of the challenges haunting Test cricket.

Nathan Lyon of Australia shows his emotions as he presents Travis Head of Australia with his Baggy Green.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Nathan Lyon of Australia shows his emotions as he presents Travis Head of Australia with his Baggy Green. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Earlier, Lyon told Head he was like "little brother" to him during an emotional baggy green cap presentation.

The very fact a current player was bestowing the honour on a debutant showed just how significant the tribute was to the young South Australian.

Not since Ricky Ponting presented Brad Haddin with his baggy green cap way back in 2008 is it thought a current member of the squad had been asked to speak about a first-Test player.

It's normally a former great from outside the dressing room. But this message came from within and won't be forgotten by Head.

Lyon spoke from the heart as he recalled the first time he crossed paths with a young batsman at South Australia and how he'd watched his journey through the ranks ever since.

The pair have played some limited-overs cricket together and have been inseparable so far on Head's first Test tour.

Before the players ran out for the day, Lyon and Head shared two passionate embraces.

Travis Head, Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne of Australia pose after receiving their Baggy Green caps.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Travis Head, Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne of Australia pose after receiving their Baggy Green caps. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Lyon told Head how much the baggy green meant to him and there was emotion in the air as Head's family and the families of fellow debutants Finch and Labuschagne gathered in a large circle out in the middle.

Test great Allan Border made the presentation to Aaron Finch, who has finally made the transition from white ball star to Test debutant.

Justin Langer said when Labuschagne was selected in the squad that he would do "literally anything" to play Test cricket for Australia.

Perhaps for that reason, 'Mr Cricket' himself, Mike Hussey was asked to present to a kid who lives and breathes the game.


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