Why do Cricketers Wear Whites in Test Matches? – A Fascinating History

One sport where the uniforms worn by the players are easily identifiable is cricket. They are highly distinct and do not resemble any other sports uniform! White shirts, long white pants, and white shoes are the standard attire for cricket players. However, there are some situations when cricketers must wear different colors of attire!

Have you ever wondered why cricket players wear white during test matches?

We see them wearing bright jerseys all the time in one-day international and Twenty20 cricket. Let’s explore why cricketers wear white jerseys and what the history behind them is.

Why do Cricket Players Wear White During Test Matches?

Since the 1800s, white has been associated with cricket. Colored jerseys were added to cricket gear in the mid-1980s. They later became the official outfit for ODIs and Twenty20 matches. “The Flannels” were the traditional cricket whites that we are all familiar with. We now refer to them as “jerseys”.

What Exactly are Flannels in Cricket?

Cricket gear is referred to as flannel. Flannels are a touch loose, but they provide the best comfort for cricketers.

The trousers are extremely stretchy and long-lasting. T-shirts and jumpers are available in short and long sleeves. To reduce abrasion, bowlers favour short sleeves, and wicketkeepers prefer long sleeves. 

Initially, the flannels were white or cream-colored. These cream-white flannels were soon rendered entirely white. Experts have expressed varying perspectives on why the decision was taken. Here are some of the more sensible arguments, in my opinion:- 

1. Whites are Better Suited to Heat

A test match can be demanding, not only for the players but also for the supporting businesses. For five days, they test the cricketers’ patience, consistency, and ability.

Playing nonstop for five days takes its toll, both physically and psychologically. But what does this have to do with the colors of the jerseys? The relationship is straightforward. They dress in white jerseys to beat the heat!

Cricket originated as a summer sport. A test match necessitates a player being on the pitch for more than 6 hours every day for 5 days. White clothing, according to science, provides better protection from external heat since it reflects more light than other colors. When you have to run continuously on open ground in the sun, wearing white feels comfortable. 

The colour white diminishes – 

  • The amount of heat that the body has absorbed. 
  • The player’s stress levels
  • The player’s rate of dehydration 
  • The likelihood of players getting sunstroke

This also answers the issue, “Why are whites only used in tests and not in ODIs or Twenty20?” Because playing 50 overs in the sun is far more manageable than playing 90 overs every day for five days. 

2. Finding the Red/Pink Ball Becomes Easier

In Test cricket, we have always seen players use a red ball. When all of the players are dressed in white, the red ball is easy to identify. 

A red ball has always been used in test matches. The pink ball has recently gained popularity in Test cricket. It makes sense to wear white to make the ball visible on the pitch. Other cricketing variants use a white ball, making it simpler to detect the ball among the colored jerseys.

Also Read: Difference Between Red, White & Pink Cricket Balls – Explained

3. The Cricket Whites Stand for the Legacy

Cricket is a game for gentlemen. The British elite typically played cricket during the 18th century. Test matches were regarded as the highest and purest form of cricket.

White is a color that has long been associated with monarchy and purity. The term “white fit” derives from the term “Knight in white armour,” lending it a feeling of chivalry and beauty. The color was also thought to represent the players’ equality. As a result, the two ideas combined to make the white uniform. Since then, white apparel has earned the equality of cricket tradition.

4. White Material Was Readily Available

Cricket began in southeast England in the late 16th century. Cricket was not designated as Britain’s national sport until the 18th century. White was one of the most widely available materials back then. It was simply a sensible decision to add white to the cricket clothing.

From Cricket Whites to Colored Pajamas

The history of cricket whites is fascinating! White became a practical choice in the 18th century because it was readily available. Previously, gentlemen would arrive at a cricket pitch dressed casually. Cricket apparel has long been associated with a “gentlemanly air.” 

Even after all these years, white is still seen as a gentleman’s color. Because cricket was a summer sport, white was ideal because it reflected sunshine. 

When did ODI and Twenty20 Cricketers Start Wearing Colored Jerseys?

The Indian cricket team’s magnificent victory in 1983 will live on in our memories. But have you ever wondered why the Indian one-day cricket squad wore white jerseys? 

Because of the 1992 World Cup, colored attire became an element of a one-day international. However, this was not the first time the teams had donned colored jerseys for an international encounter. 

The first-ever day-night match was played on November 28th, 1978, between WSC Australia XI and WSC West Indies XI. And it was on this day that the players switched from white to colored jerseys. 50,000 people had flocked to the stadium to witness this historic event! 

In the 1980s, Australia started implementing these reforms. The inaugural, vibrant Globe Cup took place around the world in 1992. More than ten years later, in December 2000, ODI cricket adopted a similar rule and required colored clothing. 

Which Games Require Cricketers to Wear White?

Modern cricket matches demand players to wear white apparel in a variety of situations. 

The biggest one is Test match cricket, which is the most well-known and longest-running version of cricket. Test matches are five-day cricket matches played between two international teams. White clothing is a vital requirement because many test matches are played in hot nations like Pakistan and India.

In addition to test matches, the bulk of first-class matches require players to wear white. First-class matches are defined as the highest level of international or local matches intended to last more than three days; hence, international test matches are included in this classification. 

In addition to test matches, all domestic first-class competitions, including the county championship in the United Kingdom, the Ranji Trophy in India, and the Sheffield Shield in Australia, require players to wear white clothes.

In addition to professional first-class matches, the majority of amateur cricket matches in the main playing nations require cricketers to wear white. Whether the matches last for 10 overs, 20 overs, or 50 overs, this essentially covers all junior and senior cricket. Although it is uncommon, certain amateur teams and leagues may wear colored uniforms.

Also Read: Difference between First-Class Cricket & List-A Cricket

Modernizations to the Cricket Uniform

Cricket is a sport that is always seeking new ways to innovate, and 2019 witnessed one of the first substantial modifications to the test cricket suit since the 1800s.

For the first time, the names and numbers of players on the back of white shirts were announced before the 2019 Ashes series between England and Australia. This divided views between those who wanted test cricket to remain true to its traditional roots and others who wanted it to adapt slightly to the current game.

There is a strong belief that having names and numbers on the back of shirts is here to stay, especially with the introduction of the “World Test Championship,” in which the major cricketing nations currently compete!

Final Thoughts

We would always appreciate cricket, regardless of the color of the jersey. The thrill, however, doubles when we see the stadium divided into two colors.

In terms of cricket whites in test matches, the fraternity believes that the white color will last for decades. Cricket is fairly traditional, yet it is continuously seeking ways to enhance the way things are done, as evidenced by many of the recent adjustments the sport has made, such as video technology and format changes. Test cricket has its own distinct and devoted fan base. The white color will keep it all together. 

Read Next: Why do Cricket Players use White Cream?

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