The Legend of The Pink Shirt

What drives sportspeople to succeed? The lure of success, both team and personal? Or the fear of failure? For a South West Victorian indoor cricket team, trying to avoid wearing ‘The Pink Shirt’ has given it’s members the ultimate motivation to play well.

The Pink Shirt has it’s origins in the later rounds of the Summer competition of 2013 at the Colac Indoor Sports Centre. Dan, the then captain, decided that a pink polo shirt, which he had frequently worn in the early 2000’s but which had fallen out of the self proclaimed fashion aficionado’s clothing rotation, would be ideal to motivate his team.  The premise was simple. At the end of a game, all players would have a final total determined by having runs conceded from their bowling subtracted from their batting score. The worst scoring player would have their name written on the back of the shirt, and would have to wear it in the next game. We went on to win the Grand Final of that Summer competition in December 2013 after losing the previous couple of deciders.


The Pink Shirt Hall of Fame

That was the last competition we played in as ‘The Bulls’, a throwback to when the team was mainly made up of Pomborneit cricketers. I was the only Bull left. A name change was needed. On the eve of the 2014 Winter season, our inspirational leader Dan broke some ribs playing footy. He’d miss the first few games of indoor cricket. We called the team ‘Dan’s Ribs’ in tribute.

Dan’s Ribs continued on where The Bulls had left off. With one major hitch. Adrian, who ‘won’ the Pink Shirt in the previous grand final, wasn’t playing. The shirt was lost/Adrian didn’t bring it back/no one bothered to get it off Adrian. Dave joined the team, Dan’s ribs healed and I took over as captain. We made it back-to-back titles

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Dan’s Ribs win the 2014 Winter GF. (L-R): Dan, Dave, Luke, Gavin, Whitey, Bettsy

There were changes made for the Summer season that runs from early October to mid December. Dave, a seriously good cricketer who plays at a high level, couldn’t commit. Josh, whose dodgy hamstrings limit him to equal time spent on the field and off it with an ice pack for football and no indoor cricket during Winter, returned to the team (he did captain the Colac Imperials FC reserves to the 2014 flag). And Dan went and got the shirt back from Adrian. Dan never warmed to the Dan’s Ribs name and lobbied for change. Reluctantly, we changed the name. To ‘The Pink’, in honour of the shirt.

We had a very settled team for the Summer comp. Dan is a hard hitting left hander, right arm sometime leggie sometime seam-up and our main ‘keeper. Bettsy, as a bowler, hits the pitch hard, a straight hitting bat and can do the amazing and the diabolical in the field. Always at the back net. Whitey, a smooth talking local radio newsreader, swings the ball away and has transformed from a nudger into a hitter. Josh finds the side nets with ease and gets wickets when opponents underrate his bowling. Which is often. Gavin hits the ball hard, bowls well and likes to throw the ball as hard as he can at the stumps. Even if he is 3 inches away and the batsman is 3 metres out of his crease. I bowl a few medium pacers and scratch around with the bat.

The Pink Shirt gave us plenty of motivation. We all gave our all for every minute of every match. Unless the ball was hit near us when someone else in equal contention for the shirt was bowling. Misfields would be received with much laughter from the rest of the team. Except for the bowler. But we found we were going full tilt at the weaker teams. Instead of going easy on them and still winning comfortably, we were handing out shellackings as everyone tried their hardest to avoid the shirt. We relaxed the rule and decided not to play for The Pink Shirt against the bottom teams. After we had played all of the bottom teams.

The banter between the players on our Facebook message group, seen only by us, is gold. Not much of it can be published here. We organise the team, celebrate pink shirt awardings (when Dan finally received The Pink Shirt, it was lauded as “the greatest day in pink shirt history”) and generally bag each other. Lots of fun. When Dan was skipper it became custom that he would send out a ‘motivational speech’ via the message group before a Grand Final. I hadn’t done it as captain until this week’s decider. Here are my inspirational words an hour and a half before Monday’s Grand Final:

“No doubt you are all well into your pre-game routines. Dan in the nets. Josh doing sprints. Bettsy on the shitter. Keep it normal. It’s made us the best team all season. Believe in the pink shirt and good things will happen. Bettsy,  keep doing what you do best. Charging in like a bull off the back net. Take someone out if you can. Preferably an opposition player. Gav, the pink shirt won’t be on your back tonight. Enjoy the freedom this gives you. Josh, as leading beard wearer, the manly aggression needs to come from you. Intimidate them. Whitey, you have the honour of wearing the pink shirt in a grand final. Harness it’s power. Use it’s energy. Dan, you are our spiritual leader. A human version of the pink shirt. Keep using your newfound pace and aggression with the ball. Go well tonight guys. Do it for yourselves. Do it for each other. Do it for indoor cricket fans around the world. But most of all, do it for the pink shirt. The colour of legends.”

We won. Three titles in a row. Gavin was man-of-the-match. Bettsy will be wearing The Pink Shirt in round 1 of the Winter comp in April. There are many questions surrounding the future of The Pink Shirt. Will we write names on the front once the back is filled up? Should the shirt have it’s own website and social media? Will anyone ever wash it? All we know is that The Pink Shirt will continue to motivate for some time yet.

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2014 Summer Premiers (L-R): Whitey, Josh, Dan, Gavin, Bettsy, Luke

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good stuff , Luke we had exactly the same re worst performance receiving the bad shirt award at Pembroke ( same thing shirt disappeared ) you have motivated me to go and find another bad shirt and re introduce from this Saturday ( player has to wear it Sat night to training and to the following game )

  2. Luke- like you I love being involved in these traditions. Just among mates, something begins, is fun, often runs its course, and is then replaced (not that we wish this for the pink shirt). Thanks for that.

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