Passing the Oval tube station the other day, I couldn't help but notice the crowds of supporters, mostly men, making their way to the Oval cricket ground. Despite cricket joining a long list of sports that I have never played, I do like the kit. Sadly, what is worn today is far removed from when I was a child and when cricket was played on a black and white television - a time when it was mandatory to play in whites.
Players wore white or cream woollen flannel trousers which were double pleated with side adjusters. Surprisingly, there is still a mill in Somerset that makes this illustrious cloth - Fox Bros in Wellington. They have manufactured flannel for centuries, and I have recently commissioned them to make Hackett a small run of this traditional cricket white material for a range in our next designer menswear Summer season.
Worn with cricket flannels were hand knitted long-sleeved or sleeveless cable pullovers in ecru, with the club colours trimming the V-neck. Underneath were lightweight off-white flannel shirts. The striped three button flannel blazer was reserved for the team photograph, or worn during tea.
The tradition of breaking for tea is, for me, the highlight of the game. How civilised to stop for refreshments! Can you imagine burly rugby players taking tea at half time in the clubhouse, having just spent forty minutes bashing the hell out of each other, only then to be sipping tea out of delicate china and munching on finely cut cucumber sandwiches before resuming battle?
Whilst I wallow in nostalgia for a more genteel era, cricket continues to become ever more commercial, with players kitted out in gaudy-coloured synthetic clothing proudly endorsing a high street bank or insurance company. As far I am concerned it just isn't 'cric-kit'. Over and out.