Why do Cricketers wear white?

Cricketers adorned in their pristine white game uniforms, dispersed around a crisp green is a familiar quintessential English sight to us all.  However, why the white kit was chosen for a game that attracts both grass stains and the red scuff of a cricket ball is a little perplexing. We aim to answer your questions and answer the ageold question, what do cricketers wear and why do cricket players wear white?

So, what are the origins of our English Cricket Clothing?

With cricket first recorded back in the 16th century here in England, the clothing that cricketers were around the world has evolved in accordance with the latest available material. Originally when played, cricketers would have played wearing the clothes that they had available. Being a sport designed for gentlemen, when this game was first formalised in the 18th century, what did cricketers wear? Cricketers would be seen wearing top hats, breeches, frilled shirts and silk stockings while running across the pitch in buckled shoes. 

This rule was changed and due to the creation of professional cricket as a sport in the 19th century, white became the colour of choice worn by professional cricket teams.  With the attire remaining as trousers, shirt and jumper to reflect the gentlemen’s dress of the 18th century, although head wear progressed to a woollen cricket cap.  It is suggested that the woollen cap kept the head warm even after perspiring unlike cotton that becomes cold when wet.

Why do cricket players wear white?

Cricket whites, or flannels as they are known, go with an English summer like strawberries and cream, Pimms and Lemonade or cucumber sandwiches.

The colour was chosen to coincide with cricket being a summer sport and hence it being the most appropriate colour to reflect the suns rays.  It is certainly not the most practical colour for the sport, which can only attract grass stains and the red scuffs of a bowler’s cricket ball.  Yet, there is romance and idealism in seeing the bleached crispness of a cricket team on a lush green pitch.

White was also chosen to reflect that cricket was a “gentlemen’s” game, as with tennis in the in the UK.  Gentlemen used to dress “as neat as a new pin” and white was the colour used to reflect this.  However, with cricket whites needing to be spotless for each innings it was found that many poor, yet talented players were kept away from the professional sport.

It has also been suggested that white was chosen as a screen colour to enable the red cricket ball to be seen clearly by the batsman.

Why do cricket players wear long trousers? 

Another frequent question alongside why do cricketers wear white, and that is why do cricketers wear long trousers? You would assume that when playing on a hot summer’s day, the wearing of shorts would be more appealing. However, it is the addition of long trouser legs that can protect and shield the players as they run and dive across the pitch. Whether they are wearing knee protectors or sliding across the grass, long trouser legs are a useful addition to the protection of the players’ knees. It also helps to keep them warm on those chillier days. 


When do cricketers wear coloured clothing?

Although Test cricket clothing remains white, players of One Day International and Twenty20 matches wear a specific team coloured kit, or pyjamas as they are jocularly known.  The coloured kits are much more practical for these shorter games of cricket as a white ball is used for play and as games now play on into the evening the colours are sympathetic to artificial lighting.   There are also added commercial benefits of the new coloured with replica kits now being available to supporters, just as with football.

The chunky knit, cable jumpers have depleted except perhaps in a local Sunday league.  Much more practical, short-sleeved t-shirts in breathable fabrics have replaced them.  The long white trousers still remain, although are now manufactured in materials that avoid staining, almost making that red cricket ball scuff a thing of the past.

When did cricketers begin wearing coloured kits?

This colourful feature to the cricket uniform was a fairly recent addition to the cricketers attire. This colourful adaption to what do cricketers wear was introduced back in 1978 during the Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket One Day Internationals. 

It was the match between the West Indies and Australia, the first ever day and night match that saw the Australians emerge in a gold uniform, while their opposing team wore a coral pink. As well as, the addition of a coloured uniform, the feature of a white cricket ball was also incorporated into the game. 

But it was in 2000 that the One Day International cricket embraced the addition of coloured uniforms, retaining the classic white for Test games only. 


Holding much importance and historic value, when it comes to what do cricketers wear when on the cricket field, science and comfort play a huge role. From reflecting the strong summer rays, to helping the red cricket ball to stand out to for the batsman, the white uniform worn by cricketers is a recent addition to this thrilling sport adored by gentlemen worldwide.

In recent years, a break from the mould has occurred. This has seen a burst of colour on the pitch and the introduction of coloured uniform to both One Day International games and Twenty20 matches. 

What do you think of the break in tradition?  Does adding colour bring cricket in line with other high profile sports?  We love to hear your comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.