Ashes 2019 may see player names and numbers on shirts, a first in Test cricket

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While coloured clothing was introduced in limited-overs cricket in 1992, Test cricket, over the years, has always been played in whites. From the Ashes 2019, players are likely to be allowed to put their names and numbers on the shirts

Photograph for representation (Reuters Photo)

Photograph for representation (Reuters Photo)

Ever since the first Test match was played in 1877, cricketers have played the longest format of the sport donning pure white-coloured clothing. Over the years, a lot has changed in the sport but the tradition of playing in whites has remained a constant.

One-day international cricket was also played in whites until the 1992 World Cup wherein coloured clothing made its debut. The vibrant colours on display was an instant hit and the ICC got players to use their surnames and numbers on the back of the shits for the first time in 1999.

Coloured clothing in ODI cricket gave rise to commercial benefits but Test cricket was not tampered with. However, that is about to change in the upcoming season of Test cricket as the ICC is mulling to introduce player names and numbers on shirts at the Ashes 2019.

The much-anticipated ICC Test Championship aimed at giving more context to bilateral series begins with the Ashes, starting August 1 in Edgbaston. England and Australia will battle for the Urn right after the completion of the 2019 World Cup.

The move to introduce numbers and names on players’ shirts in Test cricket is aimed at making it easy for spectators to identify players on the field, according to The Guardian. Players are expected to be allowed to choose numbers from 1 to 99 for their shirts. It is likely that the cricketers will look to retain their limited-overs numbers for Test cricket as well.

The news report added that the ICC is yet to approve the move but the broadcasters will be more than interested to have numbers and names on the back of players’ shirts.

Players in first-class cricket in England and Australia already have names and numbers on their shirts. Some international teams, including Australia, let their players use their initials on the shirt sleeves.

The ICC has been actively coming up with innovations to help increase the popularity of Test cricket amid concerns of lack of crowds at major cricketing avenues, including India.

Only recently ICC chairman Shashank Manohar had opined that Test cricket is dying.

“We are trying to see whether Test championship can generate interest. Because Test cricket is actually dying to be honest. So to improve the situation, we are trying ways and means. The [ICC] board directors came to a conclusion that if we start a Test championship, it would keep Test cricket alive and generate more interest in the game,” Manohar had said.

However, a recent survey conducted by the Marylebone Cricket Club shattered fears around the dip in popularity of Test cricket as it observed 86 percent of fans prefer watching Tests compared to limited-overs cricket.

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