Anthony Costa sports branding

Anthony Costa

Sports Identity & Design

Top 8 Australian One Day Cricket Uniforms of the 80s-90s

January 16, 2015
Australia one day cricket

The current Australian one-day cricket shirt is like many sports uniforms nowadays. There's too much cheesy graphic topping. Just because you stuff the crust doesn't make it more of a meal.

What looks good on a designer’s retina display screen doesn’t always work out on the pitch, particularly when you squint at it from the sidelines. Since the 90s sports uniforms have become increasingly fussy and fragmented, a by-product of sublimation printing which can blow any jpg into wearable body art. The lack of creative restrictions has turned jersey templates into digital colouring books. Smudgy gradients, splattered graphic doo-dahs and an acne rash of sponsors are now de rigueur. In design, detail is what makes the difference. But unless the details cohere into a greater whole they become a cluster of dithering distractions.

Australia’s recent domestic one-day uniforms contrast with the bright, bold designs of summers past. ISC set the standard in the 90s with a series of shirts so low-tech they may have been designed on an Etch A Sketch (probably the closest thing to a tablet back then). Horizontal stripes. Vertical stripes. Breathable cotton. Buttoned collars. It was all-so simple, but dammit it looked good. It was wearable.

The limited over shirts of the 80s and 90s were distinguished. They looked like cricket shirts (except for that one time they wore rugby shirts in Perth – but more about that later). Today, ODI and T20 cricket tops have morphed into generic football shirts, complete with v-neck collars, chest sponsorship, patchwork panelling, tech fabrics and giant player numbers. Perhaps that's unavoidable given the game's commercial and performance requirements. But it feels like a tiny bit of cricket's visual vocabulary has been lost.

Here’s a list of my eight favourite Australian one-day uniforms from the 80s and 90s. Perhaps my fondness for these shirts is tinted by the canary-yellow glasses of my youth. Will the 2014-15 ODI and Big Bash replica shirts become as coveted by eBay pickers as the classic ISC gear of yesteryear? I guess we’ll see.

8. Benson and Hedges Challenge, 1987

 A condensed one-off tournament in Perth pitting Australia against England, Pakistan and the West Indies, this shootout celebrated Australia’s America’s Cup defence. Both proved lost causes.

While horizontal stripes and two-tone dips had become part of the canon of one-day cricket uniforms, a close inspection of the collar reveals that the Challenge teams were actually wearing rugby jerseys. Despite looking like a secondary school PE uniform, I’d proudly wear one of the tops if they ever turned up. Extra points for the dreamy fan fiction concept art.

Perth Americas Cup Cricket

7. Whiteout, 1979-80

One-day cricket’s white album. England and the Windies were in town, but the prudish poms refused to wear coloured clothing – Derek Underwood was the only touring Englishman to have been part of Kerry Packer’s rainbow WSC cult. The tight Han Solo pants might be a dated look, but the simple colour blocking and subtle piping works. I’d swipe one of the sweaters in a heartbeat.

Ian Chappell One Day Cricket

Greg Chappel one day cricket

6. Southern Cross, 94-96

Forever immortalised by Michael Bevan’s statuesque SCG pose (and the camera crewman who wore one on the sidelines at the Super Bowl). Cricketers had long worn our nation’s coat of arms, but here the game laid claim to the Southern Cross, which is now it the heart of Cricket Australia’s brand identity.

5. Side panels, 80-84

With England out of the country, the World Series Cup went cray cray with the colour (England returned in 82-83 and in 1985 for the World Championship of Cricket but chose to wear plain all-blue uniforms). Today side panels have become a sports uniform clich√©, often rammed into a jersey as an afterthought, disrupting the flow of its other graphic elements. Here they fit perfectly, syncing up sharply with the coloured pocket lining of the strides. The 80-81 iteration kept the sleeve ribbon of the previous season, but it’s the cleaner stripe-free 81-84 edition that scores the points. When people think 80s cricket, there’s a good chance this is the first look that comes to mind.

Kim Hughes One Day Cricket

Allan Border one day cricket

4. Bolts, 92-94

If you told me you’re going to stick lightning bolts up and down an Australian national team jersey I’d probably say it’s a bad idea. I know I shouldn’t like the 92-94 World Series Cup uniforms but I actually do – a lot. Often the country name on cricket shirts is quite meekly inscribed. Here the angled font adds some welcome attitude. Extra points go to the 92-93 version, which bore a World Series disc modelled on the 92 World Cup logo, featuring a lightning bolt zinging behind a skyward white ball.

Shane Warne One Day Cricket

3. Tri-hoops, 84-88

Solid and succinct, the tri-hoop design was used in the World Series Cup as well as the 1985 World Championship of Cricket, held to commemorate the Victoria’s 150th birthday. Nothing super flashy here, but it's a clean, neatly aligned design that really popped when the Windies blew open the buttons.

World Championship of Cricket 1985

2. Baseball, 88-92

The flowing chest script and arched player names on the back might scream baseball, but you can’t be too sensitive when you’re playing for the ‘World Series’ Cup. Obviously taking a design leaf from abroad, the garment cut and bold horizontal stripes kept these unis in the cricket conversation. The 88-89 season shirts had a nice tactile touch, with the country names stitched-on rather than screenprinted.

Australia one day cricket shirt

1. 1992 World Cup

The strong, weighty shoulder strip made this one a standout. The top-heavy design really brought out David Boon's nuggety-ness. From memory this might have been the first national one-day shirt licensed for retail sale. No doubt this year’s replicas are fizzing out the door. But the new retros have a conventional polo cut, with the sleeve seam sitting on the shoulder point. The originals had more construction, with the stripes formed by a separate panel that curved over the shoulder, meaning they were visible when the batsman was in-stance.  Sounds like a small deal, and on the scale of global worries it probably is. But it speaks to a level of care and attentiveness to the product that is all too rarely seen in today’s licensed apparel.

Follow Anthony @costasports

World Cup 1992

Anthony Costa

Anthony Costa is a designer specialising in sports branding. Anthony has appeared on Fox Sports News and SEN radio and is an Australian Sports Commission Media Awards finalist. His work has been featured in The Age, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Sports Business Insider Australia.

Follow @CostaSports

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