In Depth

'Embarrassing' England cricket campaign backfires for New Balance

Kit launch overshadowed by cringeworthy poem – but at least the cream cable-knit sweater is back

England's cricket season got off to an inauspicious start after kit manufacturer New Balance unveiled the teams' new uniforms – and was caught out with its marketing campaign.

The new international kits were launched on Tuesday, with the Test team returning to a traditional cream-coloured outfit, complete with cable-knit jumpers, after almost a decade playing in brilliant white provided by Adidas.

New one-day and Twenty20 outfits were also unveiled, but it was a poem accompanying the launch that stole the show.

"The letter, plotted in free verse, is meant to be taken as a message to the next Test cricketer to represent England," explains the Daily Telegraph, which notes that it has been branded the "the most cringeworthy thing ever" by embarrassed fans.

Signed by the entire current England Test team, the verse contains several grammatical errors and has been condemned as vacuous. At one point it even warns the next star of the England team that they must embark on a journey up a "never-ending flight of stairs" to reach success.

"Admittedly, the effect of it all is slightly improved in an audiovisual medium – the words propelled by northern bass and set against an intense musical accompaniment quite unbefitting the form of cricket where a game can last five days," says the Telegraph.

The paper adds that the launch has been shoehorned into the wider New Balance "My Future Self" campaign, "so it would be best to warn loved ones that similar treatment could be coming soon to a sports team they love".

England's cricketing rivals are more blunt. The launch was a "big flop", and English cricket has "been given an absolute hiding", says Australian website News.com.au. The campaign has been "pilloried by some English fans as a sad marketing failure that cheapened the English cricket brand", it chortles.

New Zealand has also joined in the kicking. Website Stuff describes the poem as "nausea-inducing, corporate-speak nonsense", and says the only positive to emerge from the launch is the return of the traditional cable-knit jumper.  

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