Why Do Cricketers Still Wear White?
Cricket whites have been a core part of the sport since the 1800s
With the Ashes once again in the news, cricketers wearing glacial white uniforms have emerged back into the public consciousness – prompting many to ask, in an age where the uniforms of other sports are dominated by bright colours, why do cricketers still wear white?
This, the 71st series of the Ashes, is a particularly important one, as Australia have won 33 series and England have won 32. Unfortunately, on the heels of their 4-0 loss back in 2017, England begin this series as underdogs in predictions.
Much like the tournament itself, the history of wearing white in cricket stretches back to the 1800s. In this article, we will be looking at why English cricketers started wearing white and why that tradition persists.
A Gentleman’s Game
As with most nascent sports, cricket did not spring into life with a fully formed uniform code. The game was originally played by gentlemen in whatever they happened to be wearing at the time. Early images of cricket, show players wearing short jackets, waistcoats, top hats, and even the occasional cravat.
Cricket was traditionally played during the summer months and amateur clubs would switch to another sport during the winter. Everton FC famously started as the St. Domingo Chapel cricket team during the summer and only played football during the winter.
The team was wearing the blue uniforms of the cricket club when they won their first official match under the name Everton F.C 6-0, the kind of result the modern team would dearly like to see more often, with their chances of winning the Premiership a dispiriting 1000/1.
The idea of wearing white clothing evolved with cricket turning professional. Originally, the first sets of cricket whites had splashes of colour on them, like red polka dots, but that was quickly dropped in favour of the entirely white woollen uniform.
As Frederick Gale, one of the more famous cricketers of the 19th century put it: “White is the colour for the cricket field, so put on your white flannel suit. And you shall have a piece of dandyism if you wear a straw hat and you may wear a band ribbon, provided it is good ribbon.”
While this might seem like a sartorial step backward, the common wisdom is that the modern cricket uniform evolved in response to the uniquely English environment of the village cricket green.
CAPTION: Today’s players wear short-sleeved shirts and moderns fabrics, but woollen trousers and sports jumpers are alive and well on village greens across the UK
The Rigours of the Village Green