Keith Ross ‘Nugget’ Miller was an outstanding all round Australian cricketer who played with the best during the Bradman years. In 1942, like so many young Australians he joined the services and as a pilot flew de Havilland Mosquitos in operations over Europe. He was known for his colourful turns of phrase as much as his ability as a pilot and cricketer. In 1943 he was selected to play in the Services XI, from which time this cap originates. After the cessation of war he went on to play 55 Test matches for Australia and in 1956 was awarded the MBE. The cap was acquired by the War Memorial at auction in 2003.
The baggy cap is constructed from finely woven dark blue wool with a black cotton lining. The crown is constructed from six equal triangular panels which meet at a central point. Attached to the front and slightly off centre is a stiffened fabric covered peak. Centrally embroidered on the front panel is the badge of the RAAF. A cotton name tape, soiled and discoloured, is attached to the cotton lining and carries the ink inscription 'Keith Miller'
On arrival in the textile lab the cap was in a sorry state. It was misshapen and shedding broken wool fibres and insect frass (droppings). The baggy outer blue wool crown had extensive fabric losses. Of the six crown panels, four where damaged. Through the fabric losses the rough hessian half lining was exposed. Light wear from handling and use had occurred along the front of the peak and sides of the cap and the cotton lining was lightly soiled from wear and perspiration.
The major problem facing the cap was the fabric losses in the crown. The losses were both structural and disfiguring and made it difficult to handle or display the cap safely. The light wear and staining from its use by Keith Miller was considered part of its history and authenticity and was not removed.
The cap was first gently vacuumed to remove loose insect frass and fibres. This included vacuuming the space between the lining and the outer fabric which worked as a pocket, trapping debris. The losses in the crown were supported and backed with replacement fabric of a matching colour, weight and weave structure. The patches were shaped to correspond to the missing area of each panel and hand stitched into place.
The remaining seam allowances and remnant stich lines were used as a guide to position the patches. A covered foam hat block was made to support the shape of the cap and make it safer to handle the cap in the future.
There are a number of objects owned or used by ‘Nugget’ Miller in the collection but none that are quite as personal as his baggy blue cap. The cap has proven to be a popular addition to the collection, has been displayed in the exhibitions Fifty Australians and Sport and War.