Cricket is one of those sports which is very recognisable due to the uniforms that the players wear. They are quite distinct, and don’t really resemble the uniforms worn in any other sport! In most cases, cricketers will wear white shirts, long white trousers, and white shoes. However, there are other occasions which will require cricketers to wear differently coloured clothing!
When I first started watching cricket, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me why cricketers wore white uniforms, and I also didn’t know what the circumstances were that required them to change to other colours. If you’re also unsure about these things, then I’ll be aiming to give you all the answers you need today!
In this post I’ll give you the low down on why and when white clothing is used. We’ll also cover why some matches require cricketers to wear differently coloured clothing and use differently coloured cricket balls, as well as some of the history behind this.
So, why do cricketers wear white clothing?
Cricketers wear white clothing due to three main reasons; To keep themselves cool in the heat, to ensure that the traditional red cricket ball is visible for all of the players, and to give each player a classic and elegant look that allows the sport of cricket to maintain its reputation as ‘the gentleman’s game’.
To explain these things in a little more detail, let’s start with how white clothing helps to keep cricketers cool. This happens because the colour white reflects light from the sun very well. Other colours such as black absorb light from the sun, which causes them to retain a lot more heat. Therefore, a cricketer wearing white clothing will feel a lot cooler than a cricketer wearing darker clothing, as a lot of the heat is reflected away! This is vital as cricket can be played for multiple days in hot conditions.
Secondly, the traditional red cricket ball is much easier for batsmen and fielders to see against a white background than against a coloured background! Imagine if cricketers wore red, and then bowled a red ball at high speeds towards the batsman. The batsman would find it a lot harder to spot the ball as it travelled through the air due to the fact that the ball would blend in with the similarly coloured red clothing. This is the reason that sight screens in test cricket are white! A red cricket ball will easily be visible in front of them.
As well as the standard white shirt, trousers and shoes, cricketers may also choose to wear other things such as hats, sunglasses and cream to protect their face from the glare of the sun. A lot of these items will also be white in colour, especially the sun cream! If you would like to know what sort of sun cream cricketers use, click here to read my post that will give you all the info you need!
Which Matches Require Cricketers To Wear White Clothing?
There are multiple types of matches in modern day cricket that require players to wear white clothing. The main one is test match cricket, which is the most famous type of cricket and the one that has been around the longest. Test matches are games of cricket between two international sides that last a maximum of 5 days. Given that many test matches take place in the sub-continent in high temperature countries such as India and Pakistan, white clothing is an absolute necessity!
As well as test matches, the majority of other ‘first-class’ matches also require players to wear white. ‘First-class’ matches can be defined as the highest standard of international or domestic matches that are scheduled to last more than 3 days, so international test matches form part of this definition. In addition to test match cricket, all domestic first-class competitions such as the county championship in the UK, the Ranji Trophy in India and the Sheffield Shield in Australia require their players to wear white clothing.
On top of professional first-class matches, the majority of amateur cricket that takes place in the major playing nations also require cricketers to wear white. This includes almost all of junior and senior cricket, regardless of whether the games that are being played are 10 overs, 20 overs or 50 overs long. Certain amateur teams and leagues may feature coloured clothing, but this is not that common.
When Did Cricketers Start Wearing White Clothing?
When cricket was played in England in the 1700’s, there were no specific uniforms that the players would wear. In these times Cricket was much less organised, in fact it was more of a social sport and was mostly played for fun! Cricketers were encouraged to dress smartly though, and as a result it was common to see cricketers wearing short jackets, waistcoats, and top hats! This is a far cry from what we consider cricket uniforms to be today!
The thoughts on cricket attire changed in the late 1800’s due to the emergence of professional cricket teams. From this point, cricketers were encouraged to wear formal white outfits including white shirts and woollen caps. This (along with the fact that many cricketers recognised it was better to wear white clothing during the summer to stay cool), helped to establish the colour white as the colour of cricket for the next 100+ years!
When Did Cricketers Start Wearing Coloured Clothing?
Most fans of modern cricket are totally accustomed to seeing cricketers play in coloured clothing in the shorter formats of the game, but when did this all begin?
Up until the 1970’s, only test matches had been played between all of the international cricket teams. But in 1971, the first one-day international was played between England and Australia. This match spawned the wave of one-day cricket we now see today, with regular world cups and different one-day championships being played all over the world. It also led to the establishment of the T20 game in 2003, which has helped to make cricket even more attractive and marketable to more audiences across the globe.
In the beginning, one-day internationals were also played in the traditional white cricket kit. But this began to change in 1977 with the introduction of Kerry Packer’s ‘World Series Cricket’, which allowed teams to play in coloured clothing for the first time. This tournament also featured a white ball, rather than a red one, which was more visible during day-night matches that used floodlights, and also more visible against the new coloured kits. Also, the introduction of the white ball meant that the colour of the sight screens behind the bowler’s arm were changed from white to black.
Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket showed big businesses and sponsors that cricket could be successfully commercialised under the correct circumstances, and that a few changes to the length of matches and the times that they took place could lead to bigger audiences and more interest from younger people. Fast forward to the cricket world cup in 1992, where the decision was taken to allow each nation to compete in their national colours in a major tournament for the first time. The success of this tournament convinced cricket lovers everywhere that there was a future for this new, brighter approach to cricket.
In the year 2000, it was decided that coloured cricket clothing would now be used for all international one-day matches, completing the switch from the traditional whites to the more modern designs that we see in limited overs cricket today.
More Modern Changes To The Cricket Uniform & Equipment
Cricket is a sport that is always looking to innovate, and 2019 saw one of the first major changes to the test cricket uniform that has been made since the 1800’s. Before the 2019 Ashes series between England and Australia it was announced that the white shirts would feature the names and numbers of players on the back for the first time. This divided opinion between people who wanted test cricket to stick to its traditional roots, and others who want test cricket to adapt itself slightly to the modern game. There is a feeling that having names and numbers on the back of shirts could be something that is here to stay for the long term, especially with the establishment of the Test championship’ in which the major cricket playing nations now compete!
2015 also saw the first day-night test match played in Adelaide between Australia and New Zealand. Day-night tests are being used to make the sport more accessible to individuals who are at work or at school during the day time, and people involved at the highest levels of cricket hope this will help to revitalise the crowds for test matches. These day-night tests feature the use of floodlights but also maintain the use of the traditional test cricket white kit. As the standard red cricket ball does not show up well under floodlights, this led to a change in the colour of the cricket ball for these day night tests from red to a more vibrant pink colour.
I hope this post has provided you with the information you were looking for regarding cricket kits. Cricket is very big on tradition but is always looking for ways to improve the way that things are done, and this is demonstrated by a lot of the recent changes the sport has made like video technology and format changes. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of cricket, or even about how it is currently played, there are plenty more posts on the site that should interest you. Feel free to have a browse and check some of them out!