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. Dubbed as “cricket whites,” these immaculate outfits have long puzzled enthusiasts and novices alike. Why do cricketers wear white? What are cricket whites called? And why do cricketers wear jumpers? These queries often echo across the grounds, resonating with the curiosity surrounding the seemingly counterintuitive choice of colour in a sport notorious for grass stains and the reddish scuff of a cricket ball. In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the history and significance behind the enigmatic preference for the all-white ensemble in cricket, shedding light on the traditions and practicalities that have cemented its place in the sport’s enduring legacy.

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 wore 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.  The attire remained as trousers, shirt and jumper to reflect the gentlemen’s dress of the 18th century, although headwear progressed to a woollen cricket cap.  It is suggested that the woollen cap keeps the head warm even after perspiring, unlike cotton which 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 sun’s 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 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.

What are the Advantages of White Clothing in Cricket?

What are the advantages of wearing white in cricket? This question delves into the deep-rooted significance of the sport’s choice of attire. From honouring cricket’s extensive heritage and embodying its core values to ensuring safety and emphasizing the integrity of the game, the choice of white clothing in cricket holds multifaceted importance. It serves not only as a practical necessity but also as a symbolic representation of the sport’s ethos and history. Let’s explore how the advantages of donning white attire in cricket go beyond mere practicality, shaping the very essence of the game itself.

First of all, it honours cricket’s extensive heritage and past, reminding us of the way the game developed from a gentlemanly passion to a professional sport. The game’s design is intricately linked with respect to this historical tie.

Secondly, the choice of white as the predominant colour symbolizes purity and fairness, which are the core values of cricket: integrity, sportsmanship, and fair play.

The players are continually reminded of the importance of these values on the pitch through this symbolism. White clothing also makes you more visible on the cricket pitch.

It stands out starkly against the green pitch, making it easier for everyone involved to track the ball and players. As a result, safety has been enhanced, and game fairness has been ensured.

In terms of comfort, white attire reflects sunlight and heat, which is particularly advantageous during sunny and hot weather. Long durations of play are made easier for players by doing this.

Additionally, white clothing is practical because it makes stains more noticeable. This is essential for safeguarding the integrity of the game of cricket since it makes any tampering or foreign substances on clothes more obvious. This promotes vigilance and quick response when necessary.

Additionally, the players’ sense of belonging to the team is strengthened by the uniformity of the white clothing.

It lessens any distractions from vibrant attire and keeps the attention firmly fixed on their abilities and performance.

Another reason is that the aesthetic attractiveness of the game is further enhanced by white clothing. With its historical beauty, one is transported back to a time when cricket was played in a more formal and traditional setting.

Last but not least, the cultural importance of wearing white goes across national borders. It unites cricket-playing nations and cricket enthusiasts worldwide in a shared tradition that spans gaps between various cultures and geographical places.

Why do Cricket Players Wear Long Trousers? 

Another frequent question alongside why 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. 


Why do Cricketers Wear Jumpers, and Why is it Important?

Cricket players wear jumpers or sweaters primarily for two important reasons: to keep warm and to identify their team or club. These jumpers serve multifaceted roles within the sport:

Keeping Warm and Comfort: Cricket is often played in diverse weather conditions, including cooler or chilly weather. These jumpers provide essential insulation, ensuring that players stay warm and comfortable during matches. This is particularly crucial in countries with variable climates, as it helps players maintain their body temperature, allowing them to focus on their performance without being affected by the cold.

Team Identification and Unity: Beyond their role in keeping players warm, cricket jumpers are an integral component of the player’s uniform. They are typically designed with the team’s distinct colours, logos, and emblems. This serves a crucial purpose in terms of team identification, enabling spectators, officials, and viewers to easily recognise which team a player represents. The prominent display of the team’s logo and colours on the jumper fosters a sense of unity, pride, and belonging among team members, reinforcing team spirit.

Promoting Brand and Sponsorship Visibility: Many cricket teams have sponsor logos prominently featured on their jumpers. This sponsorship is vital for the financial sustainability of both the team and the sport. Jumpers provide a valuable space for sponsors to showcase their branding, leading to financial support for the team and the sport as a whole.

Occasional Safety Considerations: In certain scenarios, jumpers can also offer an additional layer of protection. For instance, fielders positioned close to the batsman may use jumpers to shield themselves from fast deliveries that can pose injury risks. While not their primary purpose, jumpers can provide some degree of protection in such cases.

In summary, cricket jumpers in the sport of cricket are more than just clothing for warmth; they are integral to the game’s tradition, team identity, financial support, and, in some cases, player safety considerations. Their significance extends beyond mere apparel, contributing significantly to the overall experience of playing and watching cricket.

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 of the cricket uniform was a fairly recent addition to the cricketer’s 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. 

Cultural Significance of White Clothing in Cricket

White apparel in cricket bears significant cultural importance that transcends boundaries and unifies cricket-playing nations and aficionados globally in addition to its practical and symbolic benefits. The custom of wearing white clothing on the cricket ground is at the heart of this cultural affinity.

Global Unification: The white uniform, a universally acknowledged emblem of the game, is recognised and appreciated by cricket players and fans from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. It fosters a sense of belonging by uniting the international cricket community.

Historical Continuity: The tradition of white attire in cricket links the present to the sport’s storied past. It evokes a sense of nostalgia, transporting enthusiasts back to an era when cricket was played in a more formal and traditional setting. This historical continuity enriches the cultural heritage of the game.

Respect for Historical Rituals: Cricket, as a sport, is intricately woven into the fabric of centuries-old customs and rituals. The wearing of white clothing is a clear tribute to the sport’s enduring traditions and the respect accorded to its illustrious past. It offers a concrete example of cricket’s evolution beyond a simple leisure and instead manifests as an embodiment of cultural tradition and institutionality.

Fair Play and Sportsmanship: Across cultures, white symbolizes purity and fairness. In cricket, these values are paramount, emphasising integrity, sportsmanship, and fair play. The use of white attire underscores the commitment of players to uphold these principles on the field.

Global Festivities: Cricket competitions and tournaments are magnificently transformed into international spectacles that entice viewers from all over the world to watch. These athletes transcend national boundaries when dressed in their spotless white uniforms, acting as worldwide messengers, inspiring a strong sense of global unity and igniting a source of national pride among devoted supporters.

More Modern Changes to the Cricket Uniform & Equipment

In the year 2019, the realm of cricket, renowned for its profound adherence to age-old customs, embarked on a journey of pioneering transformations. In the lead-up to the 2019 Ashes series that pitted England against Australia, a seismic announcement reverberated across the cricketing world – the traditional white shirts adorning the players would now bear the distinctive insignias of names and numbers on their rear expanse.

This watershed proclamation, far from a mere sartorial shift, ignited fervent debates and fervid dialogues among ardent cricket aficionados. Among the cricketing cognoscenti, schisms emerged, with one faction vehemently championing the cause of preserving the sport’s time-honoured character.

On the opposing front, supporters of a more contemporary adaptation championed this development as a propitious stride toward cricket’s modernisation.

The introduction of nomenclature and numerals upon the fabric of cricket shirts beckons toward permanence, a phenomenon further underscored by the establishment of the Test championship, an arena wherein the paramount cricketing nations engage in an unrelenting tussle for supremacy.

The annals of cricket history experienced a pivotal juncture in 2015 when the advent of day-night test matches materialised.

This groundbreaking idea materialised during the historic meeting between Australia and New Zealand, held in the scenic backdrop of Adelaide. The primary objective underpinning day-night tests is the democratisation of cricket spectacles, making them accessible to individuals ensnared by their diurnal commitments, be it the rigours of employment or the pursuit of scholastic endeavours. These encounters unfolded beneath the luminescent embrace of floodlights while preserving the iconic garb of white synonymous with test cricket.

However, the transition to the nocturnal realm necessitated a chromatic metamorphosis. The time-honoured red cricket ball, an indomitable symbol of cricket’s essence, yielded its dominion to a resplendent pink counterpart. This break away from the usual practices was not a random occurrence but rather a definitive choice to a step towards progress, demonstrating cricket’s unwavering commitment to its evolutionary journey.

Why Do Cricketers Wear White On Their Face?

The white substance frequently seen on cricketers’ faces is Zinc oxide, serving as a ‘physical sunscreen’ known as a ‘reflector.’ Unlike ‘chemical sunscreens’ that are absorbed into the skin, Zinc oxide forms a protective layer on the skin’s surface. This layer acts as a robust barrier, reflecting the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays away from the body. Cricketers opt for Zinc oxide because their extended exposure to direct sunlight during a game, which can last up to 6 hours, poses a risk of skin damage. Utilising a reflective physical sunscreen like Zinc oxide on vulnerable areas becomes essential to minimise the potential harm caused by prolonged sun exposure.

Why Do Cricketers Wear White On Their Lips?

This is actually the same answer to “Why do cricketers wear white on their face?”.  Cricketers apply a specific sunscreen, made from zinc oxide, a white cream on their lips. This sunscreen offers additional protection to the players against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.


Holding much importance and historic value, when it comes to what 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 for the batsman, the white uniform worn by cricketers is a recent addition to this thrilling sport adored by gentlemen worldwide.

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.

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