It took an Australian media mogul to shake things up and introduce coloured clothing to cricket. Audiences revelled in Kerry Packer’s outlandish World Series Cricket – although dressing the fearsome West Indies in salmon pink for a day-night match against Australia in 1979 was probably a step too far.
The notion of professional cricketers playing in coloured clothing for the limited-overs game certainly didn’t take off overnight. Indeed, while it gradually began to be used for one-day internationals in the eighties, we had to wait until the 1992 World Cup before it was, ahem, uniformly embraced.
It was an unforgettable World Cup for all kinds of reasons. England were in powder blue with all nations wearing kit that resembled a dollop of toothpaste had been laid across their shoulders. It was Pakistan who ultimately triumphed as the squad lifted the glass orb and danced about in kit the shade of mint choc chip.
It was refreshingly simple back then for cricket clothing designers with the country name in bold font plastered across the front and a discernible absence of many logos.
England seemed to err on the side of pastel shades in the years that followed before someone clearly decided darker shades were the way forward, with or without splashes of red as stripes or panels.
Occasionally, we witnessed England entirely in red and a personal favourite was the 2011 limited-overs version Adidas released that seemed to manage to be both stylish and cater for sweaty blokes charging about on a cricket field.
When England played their first-ever international Twenty20, down at Southampton against the Aussies in 2005 (during which they engineered a handsome 100 run win) they were decked out in the blue and red to which fans had become accustomed – but T20 clothing was to set to cause quite the stir.
The departure from all previous palettes raised a few eyebrows when orange was revealed as the colour for England’s World T20 kit in 2014. At the time, pundits drew comparisons with the Netherlands – unfortunate given we were to dramatically lose the ‘battle of the orange’ by 45 runs in the group stages.
Through the development of Twenty20 tournaments around the world, coloured shirts plastered with brand insignia are now as familiar as all the other razzmatazz that goes with this distinctive, rocket-fuelled format.
It’s always a talking point when we see how the nation we’re supporting is decked out in its bid to snaffle silverware. Here’s to looking good and playing better…
BY JOHN FULLER