William, the murdochman, 26 July 2011
It’s not even all white: The shiny synthetic materials adorned with sponsorship and coloured trims means modern cricket whites aren’t what they used to be.
The bright nylon cricket whites adorned with sponsorship and the labels of sports kit manufacturers that England and India are wearing on this Test series lack the style of whites of yesteryear. Sure they may have super scientific sweat absorbing technology and malleable ventilation shafts or whatever but the bottom line is that they make cricket whites look too much like a sport kit, whereas in days of yore a cricketer could look quite dashing. Too often these days the classic cricket jumper is left behind in the pavilion in favour of a zip up sleeveless fleece. That’s not a great sartorial switch. So here we celebrate the past glories of cricketing fashion.
W.G. Grace: 1915–1948 ….
The Doctor, the great man of “amateur” cricket – W.G. Grace – was one of the most famous men in England in the second half of the nineteenth century thanks to his unequalled genius with bat and ball and the controversy surrounding his inflated expenses. (He appeared to make a fair deal of money from the expenses that were purely meant to cover his travel and accomodation. Meaning he wasn’t much of an amateur at all.) The whites worn in the above photo are about as unfussy as you can get: white collared shirt with buttons, and pristine white trousers. It’s what Meditarreanen yacht owners wear all year round. Minus the pads and MCC cap perhaps. We particularly like the facial hair on show, though we prefer the wicket keeper’s finely groomed moustache to WG’s let-it-all-grow beard.
Sir Donald Bradman: 1908–2001
With a Test average of 99.94 Bradman is the greatest batsman of all time but perhaps not the most sartorialy stylish of cricketers. He does look pretty dapper here though in the classic Green and Gold Aussie blazer. The photographer could have told him to sort out his wayward collar though.
Dennis Compton: Kept on top with Brylcreem….
Look at the whites in this Dennis Compton Brylcreem ad from the 1950s. He may have a personal sponsor but those whites are still pure and pristine. The tightly rolled up sleeves are a nice touch that match the wide adjustment strap on the trouser’s waist. The most impressive thing about these whites is that they don’t look out of place next to the photo of Compton in his DJ, casually calling up his lady friend.
Sir Viv Richards: Fire In Babylon …. The style of the 70s and 80s brought looser fitting short sleeve shirts that were easier to move in, starting the path to the athletic sports kit whites that the Test nations wea today. It was alright thirty years ago but it’s got out of hand now. Can’t they go back to the dapper Compton whites of the 50s? It would look so much more stylish. The excuse that they new kits are easier to play sport in doesn’t hold much water, you hardly have to be athletic to play cricket. Just look at Shane Warne.
One gift that the sport has undeniably given to the wider world is the cricket jumper – as modeled above by Sir Viv Richards. Sleveless, cable knit, v-neck jumpers that can be found in the wardrobe of any gent with a penchant for the preppy side of fashion.