England July 3, 2010

The mystery of the fluorescent underarms

Can you throw some light on the new design in the England uniform?
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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.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • 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".

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Alfred on July 5, 2010, 23:25 GMT

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

  • 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.)

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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".

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Alfred on July 5, 2010, 23:25 GMT

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

  • 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.)

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Anonymous on July 4, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    aah you got it wrong Andrew.. the parrot color is to attract flies during a game, to spoil the concentration of the batters.. think deep..

  • Otto on July 3, 2010, 23:53 GMT

    Clearly, as we can see in the picture of Tim Bresnan, the patches are designed to distract the Aussie batters from the bowlers hand as he reaches the high point of his action. Just like the rumours of motors in the Tour de France bikes, these ingenious green patches are used to shine in the batters eyes - perhaps the bowlers have a button somewhere on their outfits that can provide a momentary boost of 'glow'. Sounds a bit like unleashing Tait for an over or two. I think Yardy knows what I mean. But why they wear the patches when batting, who knows. Although, they are English and that might be just enough reason!

  • Ella on July 3, 2010, 22:24 GMT

    It's very simple, the opposing players will be so horrified by the terrific stench that exudes from the England team's pits and the hideousness of the fluorescent colour as they lift their arms that they will be unable to stop throwing up long enough to beat England

  • Flynn on July 3, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    I think they are there so you can't notice that they are sweating like pigs......................

  • Pochard on July 3, 2010, 20:04 GMT

    Actually, England players mostly come from Mars. They have an unfortunate habit of tearing the armpits of their costumes due to the inflexibility of their muscles in that region, thus exposing their true skin colour.

  • ttens on July 3, 2010, 19:55 GMT

    The only thing I can think of is that they are to catch the batsman's eyes as the bowler's arm comes over. Or perhaps they are part of a subliminal advertising campaign to get us to eat more apples.

  • anirudh on July 3, 2010, 17:58 GMT

    the green is a clever marketing tactic to get even more south african players to come and play for england.. " you can wear green while playing for england too, me lad.."

  • Kim van Wyk on July 3, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    It's an aid to help them put the shirt on correctly - there is a note in the dressing room that says "If you can see a bright green patch, you've put your shirt on inside out".

  • Harsh on July 3, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I have several theories. 1) They are continuing the Normal European myth or ritual of Shakespeare's era, when people don't take a shower in the morning and they pour tons of perfume, which will do for rest of the day.

    2) Or its a symbol of Andy Flower phenomena in the team, usually Poms don't brush and don't shower, and they used to stink, and because of that Flowery smell and colour, they are suddenly smelling great and shining. Now all I am waiting for is florescent teeth patch.

    3) Or they are protesting against too much smoking going on in England, so they are symbolizing nicotine patch, and telling British individuals to stop smoking and try nicotine patch, eventually you stop smoking and become healthy like Swann :P

  • peter on July 3, 2010, 11:31 GMT

    what a special article, simply rivetting stuff

  • jaykay on July 3, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    it is beta testing, Over the years England's uniform will be replaced by fluorescent one, which will be ideal for night game. Andy flower wanted that fluorescent change soon but ECB was reluctant for its immediate inception. So as to give something for flower to cheer about, ecb decided to have this tiny fluorescent part . ECB even promised andy that boys will be wearing the full fluorescent jersey starting next world cup.

  • The Bear Jew on July 3, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    The reason for the green armpit patches is far more earthly and simpler than the ones you have suggested. Its a tribute to Ireland.

    Since England owes most of their limited-overs success to foreign imports, most notably Ireland and South Africa, the team jersey designers decided to incorporate a bit of those countries into the team colours. Messrs. Pietersen, Strauss and Kieswetter, though, vehemently denied having any knowledge of Afrikaans and proclaimed they felt more English than the Queen. Strauss and Kieswetter even pledged to have the 3 Lions tattoed to their bicep, a la Pietersen.

    At this point, young Eoin broke down in nostalgia and begged to don shamrock green colours. Paul Collingwood MBE, though, most rightly put his foot down and insisted he would never ever bear that dishonour.

    Finally it was Graeme Swann who had the brainwave. It is his suggestion that resolved Colly and Eion's conflict (at least over colour, if not over who bats at 4) and the outcome is there 4 u 2 c

  • ARIJ on July 3, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Well Pakistani players have white underneath their green colored new uniform played in the Asian cup.... explain that.?!

  • Nick Saunders on July 3, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Don't care what they are for - England haven't stopped winning since they had them. So please keep wearing them - but god they look stupid:-)

  • Long Pavilion on July 3, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    I thought the patches were for the bowlers benefit so when bowling the flash of neon would put the batsmen off. Australia must have been practising in the nets against this flourescent green because after a dodgy start the runs have started to flow.

  • RoBbIeG on July 3, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    It is all to do with Englands new sponsor, 'Brit Insurance.' This year, Surrey have included luminous green in their one day kit. Likewise with England, they are sponsored by 'Brit Insurance.' It is possible, that as both teams are sponsored by the same company, that there could be a link with kit designs. They might feel that they should both endorse the colour. As for it being under the armpit, it is probably for the absorbtion of sweat. Either way, the new kit looks very good!

  • stany on July 3, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    Most of the cricketers raise their arms out of joy (a wicket, a century, an appeal etc.,). May be Andy Flower wants to keep track of English cricket team's joyous moments on field. And may be that fluorescent patch reminds him to keep count....!

  • kaustubh on July 3, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    Nice !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mikey B on July 3, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Well, you see, Andrew, the real reason is that sometimes the England cricketers get so caught up in the game that they forget who they're actually playing for. When this occurs, they can always check their armpits, where they will see the bright fluorescent green, and realise that they must be playing for England, as those England could make a uniform that looks so ridiculous.

    And overall, thanks for another excellent article.

  • SrinR on July 3, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    It is part of a clever strategy. It is meant to confuse electronic sensors in modern cameras. What happens is that a player will apply lolly juice on to the ball and his teammates will surround him and raise their arms exposing the fluorescent underarms, the resulting glare from the bright green patches will confuse cameras so they can't focus properly, thus the players can safely alter the condition of the ball without detection. And then the ball will swing profusely and Australian batsmen are toast. Very clever England!

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  • SrinR on July 3, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    It is part of a clever strategy. It is meant to confuse electronic sensors in modern cameras. What happens is that a player will apply lolly juice on to the ball and his teammates will surround him and raise their arms exposing the fluorescent underarms, the resulting glare from the bright green patches will confuse cameras so they can't focus properly, thus the players can safely alter the condition of the ball without detection. And then the ball will swing profusely and Australian batsmen are toast. Very clever England!

  • Mikey B on July 3, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Well, you see, Andrew, the real reason is that sometimes the England cricketers get so caught up in the game that they forget who they're actually playing for. When this occurs, they can always check their armpits, where they will see the bright fluorescent green, and realise that they must be playing for England, as those England could make a uniform that looks so ridiculous.

    And overall, thanks for another excellent article.

  • kaustubh on July 3, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    Nice !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • stany on July 3, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    Most of the cricketers raise their arms out of joy (a wicket, a century, an appeal etc.,). May be Andy Flower wants to keep track of English cricket team's joyous moments on field. And may be that fluorescent patch reminds him to keep count....!

  • RoBbIeG on July 3, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    It is all to do with Englands new sponsor, 'Brit Insurance.' This year, Surrey have included luminous green in their one day kit. Likewise with England, they are sponsored by 'Brit Insurance.' It is possible, that as both teams are sponsored by the same company, that there could be a link with kit designs. They might feel that they should both endorse the colour. As for it being under the armpit, it is probably for the absorbtion of sweat. Either way, the new kit looks very good!

  • Long Pavilion on July 3, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    I thought the patches were for the bowlers benefit so when bowling the flash of neon would put the batsmen off. Australia must have been practising in the nets against this flourescent green because after a dodgy start the runs have started to flow.

  • Nick Saunders on July 3, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Don't care what they are for - England haven't stopped winning since they had them. So please keep wearing them - but god they look stupid:-)

  • ARIJ on July 3, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Well Pakistani players have white underneath their green colored new uniform played in the Asian cup.... explain that.?!

  • The Bear Jew on July 3, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    The reason for the green armpit patches is far more earthly and simpler than the ones you have suggested. Its a tribute to Ireland.

    Since England owes most of their limited-overs success to foreign imports, most notably Ireland and South Africa, the team jersey designers decided to incorporate a bit of those countries into the team colours. Messrs. Pietersen, Strauss and Kieswetter, though, vehemently denied having any knowledge of Afrikaans and proclaimed they felt more English than the Queen. Strauss and Kieswetter even pledged to have the 3 Lions tattoed to their bicep, a la Pietersen.

    At this point, young Eoin broke down in nostalgia and begged to don shamrock green colours. Paul Collingwood MBE, though, most rightly put his foot down and insisted he would never ever bear that dishonour.

    Finally it was Graeme Swann who had the brainwave. It is his suggestion that resolved Colly and Eion's conflict (at least over colour, if not over who bats at 4) and the outcome is there 4 u 2 c

  • jaykay on July 3, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    it is beta testing, Over the years England's uniform will be replaced by fluorescent one, which will be ideal for night game. Andy flower wanted that fluorescent change soon but ECB was reluctant for its immediate inception. So as to give something for flower to cheer about, ecb decided to have this tiny fluorescent part . ECB even promised andy that boys will be wearing the full fluorescent jersey starting next world cup.