July 3, 2010

England

The mystery of the fluorescent underarms

Andrew Hughes

2"" Tim Bresnan signals the drinks trolley on to the field using his bright green armpits © Getty Images
For the weary cricket watcher, intervals are a godsend and, being a helpful kind of company, Sky likes to give the viewer a little push snoozewards. When David Gower mumbles the words, ‘special feature’ the eyelids of the nation start to weigh heavily and Wednesday’s mid game siesta featured another visit to Dullsville; this time courtesy of an interview between Nasser Hussain and Andy Flower. The sun was out, the men were old chums; it was cosier than a glass of warm milk before bed.

But this time I was not reaching for my pillow and Chennai Super Kings slumber mask. I was agog, or at least, reasonably awake, because I hoped this would be the moment when I got the answer to one of the most pressing cricket questions of the day. As the Essex twosome droned on about self-belief incubation, skill sets, range-hitting and suchlike, I was hanging on their every word. “Ask the question, ask the question!” I kept shouting at the television. But Nasser did not oblige and so I turn to you, the Cricinfo readers, in search of enlightenment.

Why exactly do the England players sport fluorescent underarms? I won’t accept that these gaudy green ovals have appeared merely at the whim of a fashion designer. Mr Flower looks to me the sort of chap who is a stickler; the cast of man who takes care over arranging his sock drawer; the breed of coach who leaves no stone unmolested in the unending search for the burrowing beetles of excellence. The England players are green under there for a reason. But what is it? I can think of only two possibilities.

1. During the course of a game, a chap can forget himself, run around a little too much and completely overlook the fact that he is perspiring. What if he has to meet the Queen in the lunch interval? That is where the patches come in. Made from perspiration-sensitive material, they turn green on contact with sweat: the sweatier the player, the more vivid the green. Team-mates, noticing this chameleon like colour change, can have a quiet word and the player concerned can slip away to the dressing room for a deodorant break. And if you are using the emergency tactic of applying it without removing your shirt, the day-glow colour helps you to hit the right areas.

2. The bilious green colourings enable the England players to stay safe in the case of two relatively unlikely but potentially dangerous scenarios.

i. In the event of a localised power cut during a day-night game, traffic may become disorientated and end up on the field of play. By raising their arms, the reflective pit-patches will help stray drivers to steer clear of the England outfielders and a large insurance pay out will thus be averted.

ii. If, while on a "no fear" team bonding exercise, the squad should find themselves having to cross a rope bridge at midnight, carrying their kit above their heads, their underarm illuminations will act as a warning sign preventing low flying owls from becoming tangled in Ryan Sidebottom’s hair or mistaking Steven Finn for a poplar tree.

These seem to me to be perfectly plausible, but I accept that they may not represent the whole truth, so I invite the Cricinfo readers to help me solve this conundrum. Any solutions will be gratefully received, although logical, rational or sensible contributions will, as ever, be frowned upon.

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Posted by Jim on (July 8, 2010, 20:35 GMT)

I know the real reason. When two fielders go for a catch, one person does not have to request for or leave the ball to him, he just raises his hand and it will automatically make the other person blind or confused in the least to make sure the guy can try catching; Another idea could be that sensors in English dressing room monitors the batsman or bowler's hand movements by the use of floroscent colors and analyse perfectly.

Posted by Harsh on (July 8, 2010, 17:14 GMT)

@ Cheers Andrew Meaning of my name in my language is "Happy" and meaning in English language, well you found out now. So, I often combine everything to make everyone Harsh ergo Happy, and still remain "Harsh".

Posted by faisal on (July 6, 2010, 14:12 GMT)

The tailor ran out of the same colored cloth. So he used a bit of creativity and used a different color. Thank god he didn't have the same problem with the trousers!

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (July 6, 2010, 11:26 GMT)

Cricinfo readers have excelled themselves once more. Some glorious chuckle-inducing suggestions, of which my favourite were probably SrinR's ball tampering subterfuge, Kim van Wyk's shirt orientation aid and Pochard's extra terrestrial explanation. I also enjoyed Harsh's three unsavoury but intriguing solutions.

Arij - explaining anything that goes on in Pakistan cricket has defeated better men than me.

Posted by Alfred on (July 5, 2010, 23:25 GMT)

Cricket's answer to the Hi-Vi Jacket. Clever...

Posted by Robin on (July 5, 2010, 5:05 GMT)

Surprised you chaps haven't tumbled to the answer right away: When Brit players raise their arms now it's extremely difficult for the opposition to see where they are, because they blend in so well with the grass playing field. (That information will cost you two and tuppence hapeny.)

Posted by abhijith on (July 4, 2010, 5:34 GMT)

The English are too obsessed with Test cricket and play any form of cricket like Test cricket extending their arms to deliveries out side the off stump, thereby causing the run-rate to nosedive. Andy Flower came up with this master piece and none of them are shouldering their arms out of the possible embarrassment they have to face by repeatedly exposing their fluorescent armpits... look at the result, they won 3-2 against the aussies, now who would have thought that would happen...

Posted by Bill_Oddie on (July 4, 2010, 4:42 GMT)

Either it's because they see their Test playing peers smearing cherry red all over their groins (Sure, lads, it's from "polishing the ball"), or they heard that the Aussies have this new pace bowling 'Superman' who hits 161km and have woven kryptonite into their pits to combat him.

Posted by KiQa55 on (July 4, 2010, 3:37 GMT)

Its a sublte marketing strategy. 'Neon Pits' is the name of Mike Athertons new pub in the fancy side of London.

Posted by Umair Malik on (July 4, 2010, 1:53 GMT)

it's giving the other nations their due respect for their contributions to english cricket, the green represent S.A for KP and also Ireland for Eoin Morgan or maybe even Pakistan for Ajmal Shahzad and Mushtaq Ahmed :p

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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