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Why does cricket produce some of the ugliest kits in sport?

11th January, 2019
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11th January, 2019
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When Australia takes on India over the next week, they’re going to have a very distinct yet also very familiar look.

Kit makers Adidas will be providing the home team with a retro strip reminiscent of the jerseys worn by Australia against India in 1986.

It’s a reasonably accurate facsimile of this great design from yesteryear, but the shade of green used in the modern interpretation is painfully bright and the entire thing is spoilt by the Alinta Energy logo slapped underneath the green strip, throwing off the balance of the entire kit.

Aaron Finch and Virat Kohli pose with a trophy

What is going on with Australia’s new kit? (Photo: Matt King/Getty Images)

Is it really a classic cricket strip if you don’t bring back the yellow and green wool knit sleeveless sweaters? I didn’t think so.

While the throwback kit is meant to evoke nostalgia for the days of old, for me it brought back memories of some of the fashion horror shows cricketers have had to wear in the past.

Cricket seems to produce some the of the trashiest, most garishly designed jerseys in all of world sport. Where other codes seem to settle into a familiar and trusted template when it comes to jerseys, cricket gear seems to drunkenly stumble from one design fad to another.

American sport is often decried for being over commercialised but for the most part, it is still taboo for kit manufacturers to slap any sort of sponsorship or radical design on an NFL, NHL or MLB kit.

Every now and then a shocker comes out of the world of football, but the Europeans have centuries of artistic prowess so, for the most part, know how to design a decent jersey.

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But ever since Kerry Packer decided the mighty West Indies should wear coral pink, ODI and T20 Cricket have dished up some all-time shockers for players to wear.

As the first country to play in pyjamas and, with a strong set of sporting colours already established, you’d think it’d be easy to design a good looking Australian cricket kit.

The first few decades were generally quite good but things became more and more misjudged from the late 1990s as jersey suppliers tried to reinvent the wheel.

The green, gold and blue jersey worn at the turn of the century was a brave but shaky combination, a bit like India at the time against Brett Lee.

Adidas tried to switch around the green and the gold in 2006, a look which seemed edgy at the time but has aged pretty poorly. Now it looks dull and uninspired and the reflective gold numbers are almost impossible to read. It’s no surprise Adam Gilchrist made a meal of this stumping in a kit that mediocre.

The dark green experiment was continued by Asics who somehow made the kit look even worse, reaching a climax of mediocrity in 2014 with this disaster of an ensemble. The yellow shading on the front has a strong resemblance to dried up vomit (which as a Queenslander, would be my reaction after downing a Carlton Mid).

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Thankfully the canary yellow was brought back for the World Cup a year later.

Grey works for some nations but not others. New Zealand is infamous for donning beige during the 80s but their grey look in the early 90s was actually quite aesthetically pleasing.

Australia also tried the grey look when making their first foray into T20 Cricket. The grey, gold and dark green strip supplied by Adidas was probably the most laughable aspect of the ‘hit and giggle’ format.

Speaking of New Zealand, you’ve probably forgotten about their teal phase in the late 90s. I’m not surprised, when I first saw those kits I wanted to forget about them as soon as possible.

Here they are playing fellow long-time fashion victims India in Sharjah.

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England took a while to warm to colour kits in limited over cricket, the old enemy wearing traditional whites for home one dayers all the way into the late 90s.

While their football team sticks with the trusted white and red ensemble, the cricket team have experimented with all sorts of blue, from the iconic sky blue of the 80s and early 90s to their dark blue 2011 strip with its infamous green armpits.

What on earth was going on there?

The sub-continent has produced a number of jersey shockers but surely the worst comes from the now-defunct Chennai Superstars. They played in the ICL (the less successful predecessor to the IPL) with a hot pink and lime green kit which appears to be a pretty accurate visual representation of being stabbed in the eye.

But by far the worst repeat offender when it comes to kits are Zimbabwe. The minnow nation have tried all sorts of combos and have had so many shockers as a result.

This kit, again from 1999 is possibly the most ugly thing I’ve seen on a cricket field, with the possible exception of Glenn McGrath’s batting technique. No wonder the Indians collapsed against them in the group stage, those kits would be one hell of a distraction against the bowling of Henry Olonga.

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Those are just a few of the many fashion disasters to take to the middle over the years. While the quality of designs is slowly improving, kit manufacturers still haven’t quite cracked the secret to designing a killer cricket kit.

Maybe the traditionalists were right. Playing cricket in pyjamas was a doomed idea all along.

What cricket kits do you find the ugliest? Comment below, there are surely many more I have missed.