Photo feature

We're in boot camp

Our eyes are cast down, on cricketers' footwear

Nishi Narayanan  |  

Alexander Joe / © AFP

Cricket is a sport for gearheads - bats, balls, helmets, pads; guards for the arm, thigh, abdomen and chest; batting gloves, keeping gloves, not to mention accessories like luridly coloured sunglasses. But the one item of gear, or lack of it, that cricketers fondly remember from their early playing days is footwear. Many recall borrowing bowling boots from senior team-mates (or movie stars) or getting one with the help of friends.

In an interview to ESPNcricinfo last year, Ashish Nehra remembered the pair he wore on his Test debut. "I had just one pair of Reebok shoes. Luckily there was this cobbler at the SSC in Colombo, so at the end of the day I would give the shoes to him and he would stitch it. I could not tell him that was the only pair I had! I still recollect in the final few overs I bowled, the nails had started to come out. That was the last time I played in them."

In the picture above, Chris Harris does a Cinderella while taking a run during a warm-up game at the 2003 World Cup.

© PA Photos

Datta Gaekwad is surrounded by fresh new pairs at a Stuart Surridge sporting goods store during India's 1959 tour of England.

With shoes come:

Dibyangshu Sarkar / © AFP

Endorsement opportunities.

Geoff Caddick / © Getty Images

Headaches about cleaning them.

Paul Kane / © Getty Images

Line-in-the-sand moments?

Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / © AFP

And the smell of sweaty feet in the morning!

© PA Photos/Getty Images

Once, even Muhammad Ali stopped to admire a pair of cricket boots.

Alessandro Abbonizio / © AFP

In the non-professional game, like in this instance in Maracas, Trinidad, shoes can be more useful off the feet than on them.

Prakash Singh / © AFP

Fast bowlers break bodies, but fix up soles (or something).

Indranil Mukherjee / © AFP

Standing in line to buy match tickets in India? Don't come in your Sunday best.

Dibyangshu Sarkar / © AFP

Planning to invade the pitch? Be considerate and come with bare feet but a clothed body.

Paul Kane / © Getty Images

On the field, where everyone is dressed the same way, shoes, like high heels, give you a chance to make a statement. Jhye Richardson has "KISS!!" (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and "Ruthless" written on his in a Shield game.

Kai Schwoerer / © Getty Images

Chris Gayle echoes headline writers everywhere.

© Cricket Australia

Nathan Lyon wears shoes that say what we hear on the stump mic all the time when he's bowling.

Harry Engels / © Getty Images

Craig Kieswetter sports a Converse pair with spikes at a T20 game.

Michael Dodge / © Getty Images

You have had a really good day at the cricket if you get to go home with a Test cricketer's bowling boots.

Anthony Devlin / © PA Photos/Getty Images

But maybe not such a good day if you decided to drink out of a shoe, even if it was one of your own.

Neal Simpson / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Sometimes you just have to play your socks off.

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo