English cricket officials have been given an absolute hiding after a bungled marketing gimmick.
The England cricket team unveiled its new playing colours across all forms of the game earlier this week in a partnership deal with New Balance.
The one-day and Twenty20 ensembles attracted a mixed response from English Cricket supporters, but the attempt to sell the kits went way too far in the eyes of some fans.
In conjunction with the big reveal earlier this week, and in connection with an advertising campaign, every member of the English cricket team signed a letter informally addressed to the next player to make his Test debut for England.
The poem addressed to English Test player No. 677 details the values central to playing for the country and is a call to arms of sorts for emerging English cricket talents to stop at nothing to find improvement in their own games.
That's when English fans smelled something was up.
The letter reads:
"DEAR 677... Whoever you might be.
"This is England.
"The home of cricket.
"Forget what you've done before.
"None of it matters.
"We've taken wickets. Scored runs. Held catches.
"You're on the first step of a never ending flight of stairs to success.
"So start climbing.
"Do that and you'll be one of us.
"We'll teach you. Protect you. Guide and welcome you.
"But what we can't do is carry you.
"So hear this.
"Out run us, out bowl us, out work us.
"Take our place in the team.
"Because if you do that, we'll win it all.
"Being the best in the country is one thing.
"Being the best in the world is another.
"Because one thing's for sure...
"... greatness isn't given."
England team signed letter to number 677 (the next Eng Test player) pic.twitter.com/mB4QoOF0zk— Nick Hoult (@NHoultCricket) May 2, 2017
The blatant decision to rope players into the New Balance "My Future Self" campaign was pilloried by some English fans as a sad marketing failure that cheapened the English cricket brand.
@NHoultCricket horrific— Ben Southwood (@bswud) May 3, 2017
@NHoultCricket That's, um, cringeworthy at best. Jeez.— Kaylan Geekie (@KaylanGeekie) May 3, 2017
The promotional video tied to the letter was also received with mixed reviews.
The new look uniforms - while appreciated by some - were also not above criticism.
It's a big flop considering New Balance is reportedly coughing up more than $3.48 million per year for the next five years for the honour of manufacturing England's cricket strips.
New Balance's new-look Test match kit moves away from the bright white of the previous adidas kits and they have also reintroduced a knitted cream sweater to the line-up.
Captain Joe Root said he is a big fan of the new look colours. "It's as traditional as it gets, isn't it, it's what Test cricket is about," Root told The Telegraph.
"The guys in 2005 who won the Ashes wore the old cable knit jumper and there are some great iconic moments in English cricket that are associated with clothes like this so hopefully there will be much more in the future.
"It feels like I'm a kid again, playing my first couple of games. It's like my first woollen jumper my grandma knitted me so it takes it all back to the beginning and it's a nice way to remind yourself that even though there are times when we're under a lot of pressure it's a game we enjoy playing. We have to embrace the occasion, go out and enjoy it."
Some fans disagreed.