READER REPORT:

Painful plight of the Black Caps

JEREMY BROWN
Last updated 12:23 09/01/2013
Martin Guptill
VIVEK PRAKASH/ Reuters
IT HURTS: New Zealand cricket fans share in the pain of players such as Martin Guptill, only they can walk away, not just off.

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Dear Black Caps,

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just spit it out: You’ve used up all your deliveries, it’s over.

I didn’t want it to come to this. I like you, I really do. Heck, at one time I even loved you. I really wanted this to work out, but you’ve hurt me too much, disappointed me too often.

I want commitment, I want passion, desire. You’ve lost your drive.

You expect so much from me and give so little in return. I made the time for you. I got up in the middle of the night, during my working week, just to watch you.

Maybe I was a bit green and slow. I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

You always say you’re sorry; but nothing changes. You’re taking me for granted. You’re taking the piss.

So I’m making a declaration of my own: I’m leaving you. I’m retiring hurt and taking the long walk back to the pavilion.

No longer will you have your wicket ways with me. I don’t mean to sound so cutting, but I think it’s best for both of us if I play this with a straight bat.

Sure we had good times. I loved watching you at Eden Park. I cheered for you. I cried with you. You had courage. You had backbone. And most of all you appreciated me. You were quite the catch.

You had the power and aggression of Cairns. The elegance of Fleming. The unorthodoxy and guile of Vettori. The blazing bat of Astle. The long awaited world class pace bowling of Bond.

Players like MacMillan, Twose, Styris, Richardson and Parore who stubbornly refused to take a backward step, and had the lumps to prove it. In fact, Twose was covered in them. I used to think he was unable to duck, or even bend.

I smile when I think about how proud I was, having smuggled an entire cask of red wine into the terraces, to watch you play Sri Lanka in an ODI, only to suffer the indignity of smuggling it out again as you capitulated for a meagre 76.

But I forgave you. I forgave you because you showed me that against the odds you could mix it with the big boys. You could win. You had appeal.

But I guess that was the first sign of cracks appearing.

It’s been a long time between drinks. The players have gone. The victories have dwindled. The enthusiasm has waned. The memories are fading.

Opposition fans no longer engage in banter; there is just no challenge. So they shower us with something far worse: Pity.

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Instead of celebrating your successes, I have been reduced to hoping for Australian failures.

A week ago you self-destructed. You have lost your identity and are trying to be something you’re not. You are not Armani, Gucci or Prada. You are the sales rack, the half price ill fitting beige shirt that no one else wants.

Your meek capitulation triggered a realisation: I am embarrassed of you. The thought of introducing you to my parents makes me cringe.

My friends laugh at you, and at me, for standing by your side. I am the Hillary to your Bill, ignoring your indiscretions, blindly defending your honour.

But no more. I’ve given you out, and like India, my decision will not be reviewed. Like all things, the innings must come to an end.

The beige sits in the back of my drawer, next to my 2007 All Black RWC jersey and last year's Warriors shirt. I don’t know when I’ll wear it next. It will take time for me to trust again.

I’ll try to remember the good times together and hope that one day you’ll be the team we both know you can be.

Then maybe, just maybe, you might see me around. Keep an eye out, I’ll be the one in beige.

Love,

The Fans.

PS I apologise for not doing this in person, but my therapist recommended I write it down.


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