The nine teams at the 1992 World Cup

1992: Look ma, no whites

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Feature

They wore it at the World Cup

How teams' uniforms have evolved over the history of the tournament

Ishita Mazumder and Srinath Sripath |

Nearly three decades since the World Cup moved from all-whites to coloured kits, is there any disagreement that the first set of uniforms, from 1992, remains the most iconic? Rainbow stripes running across the breadth of the shirts, uniquely distinguishable colours, and team names written clearly in a standard format: think Imran Khan lifting the trophy at the MCG, Martin Crowe's signature pose after one of his back-foot cuts, Kiran More walking in front of a leaping Javed Miandad. Those shirts remain prized collector's items still.

Since 1999, sides have been able to choose their own colours and layouts. Now board emblems and multiple brand logos compete for space on players' shirts. Except for Afghanistan, who are only playing their second World Cup this year, here's how the colours of the other nine teams have evolved over the years.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Australia's green and gold is a nod to the Golden Wattle, their national flower, and their bright yellow kits have come to be a symbol of World Cup dominance - they have won four titles out of seven in coloured clothing, and finished runners-up in a fifth. Since 1999, the five stars of the Southern Cross have been a near-permanent presence on their jerseys, and apart from a brief experiment with all-green kits during home seasons in the late 2010s, their World Cup gear has stuck to familiar yellow and green tones.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

True to their nickname, Bangladesh's World Cup kits have featured the tiger prominently from time to time: on their debut in 1999, they had distinctive yellow-black stripes running across the front of their jerseys, while their most recent appearance, in 2015, featured a giant watermark of a roaring tiger from their board's emblem. In between, they have worn various shades of green, with various yellow and red accents.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Is there a shade of blue England haven't worn at the World Cup? Pale, navy, sky, near-black - you name it, they've had it at some point. Unlike the primary colour, the two constants have been the complementary red stripes running along the sides, and a giant three-lions motif. The last time they hosted a World Cup, back in 1999, the kit-launch party treated us to the sight of the captain, Alec Stewart, and vice-captain, Adam Hollioake, clad in sky blue, lifting supermodel Caprice aloft, and playing cricket in front of London's Fashion Café. That year's campaign ended in (yet another) first-round exit. How far will they go in 2019?

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

India's first coloured World Cup kit was an Oxford Blue, a dark shade they soon swapped for sky-blue tones. In 1999 they wore arguably their most memorable tournament colours - a pleasant baby blue featuring a series of bright-yellow Y shapes from the board's logo running across the jersey's diagonal. Since the turn of the 21st century, India have had sponsor logos emblazoned across the front of their jerseys; most notably, they were forced to switch from saying "Sahara" to "Amby Valley" during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, to avoid any potential ambush-marketing problems with a tournament sponsor, South African Airways.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Most contemporary fans know them as the Black Caps, with their striking kits standing out in cricket's sea of blue and green, but it wasn't always so. New Zealand were originally the "beige brigade" (having been handed that dull colour by their trans-Tasman neighbours during a tour of Australia in 1980-81) before going powder-grey for the 1992 and 1996 World Cups. They eventually made it to their now-signature black via a teal kit in the 1999 edition, an improved version of which they wore en route to the 2000 Champions Trophy title. Black kits with silver fern motifs have been the norm since then, with grey and beige periodically featuring as side panels. Their run to the 2015 World Cup final on home soil came in black, with a dash of shocking fluorescent blue.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Close your eyes and think of Pakistan kits over the years. Do you see Wasim Akram, clad in lime-green, having just bamboozled England's middle order in a World Cup final in Melbourne? So iconic and high on nostalgia value is that kit that the lime-green shade was revived when the World Cup made its way back to Oceania in 2015. Competing with the 1992 uniform for top spot is the 1999 one: closer to neon than green. Add their perfectly colour-coordinated pads, sweaters and helmets, and their gear from the summer of '99 remains as good as any in the tournament's history. In between, they switched to darker hues, even trying out a lime-green gradient on a dark-green background during the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

South Africa have been in coloured clothing for all their World Cup games - they made their maiden appearance only in 1992, as the apartheid years came to a close. Since then, they have been in different shades of green for their heroics and heartbreaks - from Jonty Rhodes' shirt-muddying run-out in the forest shade of 1992, to the twin heartbreaks of 1999 and 2003, featuring Lance Klusener in yellow-green combinations. The Klusener years, in fact, produced two of South Africa's best World Cup kits: dark green with an inverted Y adapted from the national flag running down the front in 1999, and the one with sharp tiger-print sides that they wore at home in 2003. Since then, they have played around with various combinations of green with yellow accents, before switching to the current kit, which features seven shades of green.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The World Cup win in 1996 could well have made that year's blue uniform the Sri Lankan fan's favourite kit of all time, but their jersey game probably peaked in 1999, in what was a middling tournament on the field. Before sponsor logos crowded cricket shirts, Sri Lanka's had enough space for a full-blown golden lion from the national flag. A watered-down version featuring the contours of the lion reappeared during the 2007 World Cup. The only other departure from their quintessential blue-and-yellow was in 2015, when scintillating ocean-blue triangles dominated their jersey.

Ishita Mazumder / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Pink-kitted in the World Series era, West Indies wore maroon in the 1992 World Cup, to go with the colour of their Test cap. Maroon has since been their primary colour, with yellow trim, and black and green side panels featuring at various points. Think of West Indies' World Cup colours and one of the first images is that of Richie Richardson, all in maroon, batting in his floppy hat and rainbow-patterned jersey in '92 and '96. But the team's preeminent World Cup kit has to be the one from 1999, a time when the palm tree and sun featured prominently. White hems and collars (rarely seen since), and matching caps and sweaters all added to the appeal of what has become one of their classic kits.

Ishita Mazumder is a designer at ESPNcricinfo; Srinath Sripath is a sub-editor

 

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