December 23, 2015

First, gear

Cricketers and their kit

Nigel French / © PA Photos

Cricketers, amateurs or pros, tend to be gear junkies. And ours is a sport that indulges them with bats, balls, gloves, inner gloves, pads, thigh pads, chest guards, elbow guards, abdomen guards, grips, bat cones, boots, boots with spikes, jerseys, jumpers, skins…

Former Yorkshire keeper Simon Guy started wearing a Hannibal Lecter-style mask after fracturing his cheekbone. "I use it mostly for one-day cricket when you're standing up to guys bowling at 70 or 75mph," Guy said. When batsmen are playing all kinds of sweep shots, you're going to take one in the face eventually. It's my livelihood and I can't afford that."

© PA Photos

Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers and Wes Hall look like kids in a candy store while inspecting bats at the Slazenger shop in Croydon at the start of their 1966 tour of England. Sobers had a terrific series with the bat, making 722 runs in five Tests at 103.14, with three hundreds and two fifties. And since it's Sobers, he also had a great series with the ball - 21 wickets at 24.76.

Rebecca Naden / © PA Photos

England wicketkeeper Jack Russell tries to dry his gloves on the stumps during a tour match in Guyana in 1998. On a previous tour to West Indies, Russell tried to dry his floppy hat - one that he wore throughout his career - in an oven and it needed extensive repairs after it caught fire.

© PA Photos

Indian captain Datta Gaekwad can't decide what shoes to buy at the Stuart Surridge Sports Outfitters Shop in London, April 1959. That sort of indecision may have played a part in India losing the series 5-0.

Charles Hewitt / © Getty Images

Is that a cricket pad or an umbrella, Wally?

Barry Batchelor / © PA Photos

In 2006, designer Ben Foster created an eco-friendly, biodegradable abdomen guard, made of hemp and a plant-based resin. But unfortunately while he was able to protect his family jewels while batting against Nottinghamshire bowler Charlie Schreck during the product launch, he was hit on the head by the ball. "The box stood up well - we just need to make an eco-friendly helmet," Foster, who split his eyebrow, said.

© PA Photos

You'd have seen these sort of things on the teleshopping networks (sauna belt, anyone?), only sleeker. In the 1958 version: Trevor Bailey tries to lose weight by exercising in a sweatsuit made from heavy-duty plastic material, which, when worn, causes the body heat to be retained within the garment. No heat escapes and the temperature inside the garment, rising above blood heat, causes the wearer to perspire freely.

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo