The cricketing world didn’t like it in March when the decision was made — and it appears to like it even less now that the new era of Test numbers is upon us.
Australian Test captain Tim Paine plunged into the age of personalised tops, with numbers and names being printed on the back of players’ whites, on Sunday during Australia A’s tour match against Sussex at Arundel Castle.
It is the same long sleeve shirt he will be sporting when the First Ashes Test begins on August 1 at Birmingham.
An image of Paine with No. 7 slapped across his back underneath his printed last name was posted on social media by Cricket Australia — and the response was, in the majority, against the change of tradition which has kept players in mostly unblemished cream or whites across the 142-years of Test cricket.
Australia’s names and numbers were written in the traditional green shade used for our revered “Baggy Green” caps.
Cricket Australia called the decision to put Australia A in the kits that will be worn for the Ashes a “soft launch”.
Tradition will be jolted when Australia and England’s battle for the urn begins next month, with both countries having agreed to have the appendages added to their white shirts.
The move, announced in March, is part of a promotional plan around the inaugural World Test Championship.
The Ashes marks the beginning of the nine-team national championship and a “new era” according to the ICC.
Wearing white or cream shirts that are plain on the back has been customary since the first Test was played in 1877.
The requirement for names and numbers doesn’t extend to sweatshirts or vests worn over the shirts.
The ICC has conceded the move was met with reluctance by some players while cricket traditionalists have also hit out at the change.
Australian batsman Travis Head supported the initiative when it was announced in March.
“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 at the time.
“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.”
Many others were a little more sceptical.
Aussie Test great Gavin Robertson told Fox Sports News in March cricket officials should be fighting to uphold the game’s traditions rather than introducing controversial new changes.
“They can’t be serious,” Robertson said.
“We’ve really got to hold on to tradition in this game. I’m not trying to act old but my old man’s a classic at this, he sometimes gets emotional and gives me the ‘get stuffed’ award. The ‘get stuffed’ award is about please just leave what’s beautiful about the game alone.
“Just picture it, the Ashes first over and bowler A runs in with his number on the back, like he’s leaving the game and going to play second row for Warrington.
“Let’s leave the numbers out and let’s fight for the traditions of the game. It’s a beautiful game.”
Cricket.com.au published a full list of the numbers Australia A players wear during its tour of England in the lead up to next month’s Ashes.
Jackson Bird 3, Joe Burns 15, Marcus Harris 14, Josh Hazlewood 38, Travis Head 62, Jon Holland 41, Michael Neser 18, Tim Paine 7, Kurtis Patterson 35, James Pattinson 19, Will Pucovski 12, Chris Tremain 99.