Let's be proud of our country

SPORTS TALK BY JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 09:55 19/02/2013

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OPINION: It's time this Black Caps farce ended.

The team our best cricketers represent in test matches and limited-overs internationals is New Zealand, not Black Caps.

In recent days I've spoken to two former New Zealand representatives, 45 years apart in age, who expressed disgust at the term "Black Caps".

"It's like our country is made up of two islands, Black and Caps," said one.

Some countries' national teams have a nickname, but it is difficult to think of any example in which the marketing boys have made such a determined effort to brand a team.

Often when New Zealand plays cricket now (but not at the Basin Reserve, where there are still some guardians of tradition), the scoreboard does not record our team as "New Zealand" but "Black Caps".

The term is spreading.

If you Google former players, you'll see they played for the Black Caps. Try it with Stephen Boock, for example, and you'll read how he helped the Black Caps beat the West Indies in 1980.

Yet the term Black Caps was invented only in 1998, when Clear Communications, the sponsor of the national team at that time, ran a public competition and "Black Caps" won it.

New Zealand Cricket, which generally shows appalling judgement regarding anything to do with the game's heritage or traditions, embraced the fancy new term.

On its official releases, New Zealand Cricket now refers to the team as BLACKCAPS.

I've noticed the term spreading overseas. English magazine The Cricketer has for several months been advertising supporters tours to New Zealand to see "Blackcaps v England". In some ads, supporters are advised they can stop on the way and see Pakistan v South Africa.

We are the only cricket nation apparently reluctant to use the name of our country.

The Aussies are absolutely proud of the baggy green cap, but they call their national cricket team "Australia".

Do our test cricketers wear a New Zealand blazer or a Black Caps blazer?

The most famous New Zealand sports tag is "All Blacks", but when our national rugby team plays a test match, the scoreboard reads "New Zealand".

The term "All Blacks" is regarded warmly. It evolved naturally from "Black" in the 1890s to "All Black" in 1905, during the famous Originals' tour of Britain. It wasn't because of any marketing push, but rather was a term of praise, endearment almost.

Unfortunately, other sports bodies have hopped aboard, trying to get a bit of spin-off publicity from the All Blacks by devising similar nicknames.

The ceaseless handing out of monikers for our national teams has become juvenile. All Whites, Black Ferns, Silver Ferns, White Ferns, Tall Blacks, Tall Ferns, Wheel Blacks, Ice Blacks, Black Sticks, Black Sox, White Sox, Kiwi Ferns, Black Cocks (oops, they've discontinued that one), Black Finz, Ice Ferns, Iron Blacks, Football Ferns, Black Jacks, Blind Jacks…

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Heaven knows what the non-sports public makes of it.

The sad thing is that it doesn't make a bit of difference to the pride in the team or the team performance. It's just some marketing types getting cute and thinking they're clever.

We should say "Enough" and show some pride in our national cricket team by calling it New Zealand.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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