World Series Cricket had brought an environment of change to a game steeped in tradition. WSC not only embraced new concepts, but sought to revisit and improve upon the old ideas. The evolution of the night game was one area where development did not become stagnant. WSC had foreseen the need for a white ball for enhanced sighting by both players and the audience against the night sky. However, now the ball could be lost against the backdrop of a cricketer’s whites.
Much care is taken with sightscreens and movement behind the bowler’s arm to allow a batsman to best ‘pick up’ the ball as it is delivered. Now the path of the white ball could be lost by the batsman after it left the bowler’s hand against the bowler’s clothing or a white umpire’s shirt.
The best colour for the ball was white, therefore the backdrop must change. Umpires were issued with darker clothing, but the players only received stripes down their sleeves and trouser legs. Marginally fashionable, the sighting problem was not resolved until their entire outfit was coloured; yellow for Australian XI, pale blue for the World XI and a red that bordered on pink for the West Indies XI. In time pads, gloves and helmets all took on their own hue.
The game had come so far in two seasons, but could it survive as a divided house?
The Australian one-day side wearing the coloured uniform c.1982. (Image: Viv Jenkins Collection)