ODI cricket underwent a change during the 90s when coloured kits were introduced and used across the board at the 1992 World Cup. Meanwhile, Test cricket maintained its tradition of all whites with lunch and tea breaks the norm. Since then, Test cricket has seen numerous changes such as introduction of day-night Tests with ball colours changing and players taking a breather for tea and supper instead. Another change is in the offing it seems starting with the ICC Test Championship this year.
Test cricketers are reportedly set to wear numbers on the back of their shirts under changes proposed for the ICC Test Championship which begins with the Ashes in August. As per cricket.com.au, Cricket Australia’s operations department is in the planning phase to produce numbered Test shirts for the Ashes this winter.
Players in Australia and England’s domestic first-class cricket competitions already wear numbers on their backs, but that is not the norm in other countries. In Australia, the stipulation regarding shirt numbers is that they must be no longer than two digits.
Ever since the first match in 1877, Test players have worn plain white or cream clothes, while the introduction of cap numbers and series details stitched in below the badge is a newer introduction. Some nations – including Australia – also have their initials stitched into the sleeve.
With many traditionalists of the sport have expressed their resistance and scepticism over the move, but they have been welcomed by Australia’s Travis Head. “It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and I think if it helps the fans then that’s a good thing,” Head told cricket.com.au. “That’s why they brought it into Shield cricket, so that people could identify players they probably don’t see all that often, especially now with games being live-streamed.”
“Obviously, the detail in the television coverage these days is pretty good, so I guess this is aimed more at people who are at the ground.”
Head stated the move was purely a cosmetic one, unlike the introduction of day-night Test cricket that has proven to be a firm favourite with fans.
“It’s not like the introduction of the pink ball for Test cricket, it’s one of those innovations that won’t have a huge impact on the game itself,” Head said. “But if it means kids can identify their favourite player a bit more easily at the ground, then I’m all for it.”
Head who debuted for Australia in Dubai last October, says players would put far more significance into their personal Test cap numbers than shirts. “I’m not for putting special significance in numbers, but I know some guys are,” Head said. “I know that my Test and one-day cap numbers, and my SACA number, they obviously have a bit more personal significance. But I can’t see anything negative about a decision like this, it’s all to help out the viewers.”