Woollen sweaters bowled out as England go hi-tech

Test team trade traditional cable knit for fleecy slipovers

With impeccable timing the England cricket team have abandoned traditional cable-knit wool sweaters in favour of "fleecy slipovers" executed in an untraditional-sounding fabric called ClimaWarm. Other garments are fashioned from the equally neologistic ClimaCool.

The sports manufacturer Adidas says: "ClimaCool isn't just another moisture-wicking fabric." Perish the thought. "It is an integrated system of technologies that work together to regulate the athlete's body temperature."

All this is doubtless a great comfort to any England cricketer who wants to minimise the risk of exposure when being washed out to sea in a pedalo..

One's view of whether this important development is a necessary step to give our lads the competitive edge, or an outrageous crime against the British way, depends on how one sees cricket. Is it a demanding sporting activity that tests a player's sinews and synapses to the limit? Or should it be classified as a gentle folkloric activity that is perhaps less physically demanding of its participants than morris dancing and yet invokes sartorial rules that are just as arcane.

At my school, all this sort of thing was taken seriously: pupils had to be equipped with a silk square to knot around their necks in order to be able to play cricket properly. By contrast, the recent pictures of England's cricketers showing off their new kit had me thinking of a police line-up.

The irony is, of course, that we are in the middle of a cricket sweater mini-boom. Club Colours, an East Anglian manufacturer of traditional sweaters, has apparently taken orders for 750,000 of the things since the beginning of the year.

Happily, cable-knit devotees will still be able to catch some summer sporting action. Even though our cricketers may have abandoned woollen sweaters, they are still in evidence on the tennis court. Ralph Lauren is the official supplier of blazers (navy with cream piping), trousers (cream) and knitwear (traditional) to the on-court umpires and judges at Wimbledon. For the American clothing king it was the culmination of a lifetime's admiration of British sporting elegance.

He says: "I have long been inspired by the rich heritage of England." I don't think he had pedalo boat theft in mind. "I am thrilled to be partnering with the All England Club/ Wimbledon and playing a major role in such a historic sporting event."

I would guess that sales are going to spike later this year with the big-screen remake of Brideshead Revisited. After all, it is hard to loll about an Oxford quad perfecting your effete teddy bear-dangling manner in a ClimaWarm fleece.

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