Bye to Wizards, say hello to Canterbury Kings

ALL HAIL THE KINGS: The new playing strip of the Canterbury T20 team has been unveiled.
ALL HAIL THE KINGS: The new playing strip of the Canterbury T20 team has been unveiled.

Canterbury Cricket has ditched the "Wizards" name and their Twenty20 side will no longer play in red and black.

The Kings are the new team in town and will play in this summer's domestic T20 competition wearing purple and gold.

Canterbury will drop a nickname all together for their one and four-day campaigns and will still play in traditional red and black in the one-day competition.

Players and staff were told of the changes yesterday and Canterbury Cricket boss Lee Germon said it was met with "approval and excitement".

The move, which is as bold as the new colours, is based around gaining traction for the association's Twenty20 side, attracting new fans to the game and trying to rescue the declining interest in the sport, Germon said.

"The key for us is we need to face some brutal facts.

"In traditional cricket, we have declining junior numbers and there's declining interest in the sport in youth and among families. The sport, in our opinion, is in real danger of losing its relevance."

A separation from tradition has worked in both India and Australia in the Indian Premier League and Big Bash League respectively and Germon said it was strange New Zealand had been so slow to follow suit.

"We want to see T20 as a different product. We don't want it to just be about the cricket, we want it to be about the whole entertainment package.

"One-day and four-day cricket will still be about the more traditional cricket values, but this is a chance for us to attract a different audience and promote what really is a different product."

The one and four-day games will still be considered development pathways, but the T20 competition will be more about entertainment and it has far greater potential commercial possibilities.

With private investment around T20 teams on the horizon, this move will also help separate the teams.

The Wizards name is only 13 years old and with little meaning to the region - except for The Wizard of Christchurch who incidentally opposed Canterbury Cricket developing Hagley Oval - but the choice to drop the red and black colours could be considered risky.

Germon hopes it won't, but explained the decision and said it was not one reached lightly.

"Red and black is really important to us and it is to me, I played in red and black, but T20 needs to be viewed as having no tradition. It doesn't have any and this will help us change the image."

Germon said in a city where all teams wore red and black and a number of business used the colours too, it was hoped the change would make them stand out.

The Kings name, he added, had far greater marketing possibilities too with connotations of dominance and royalty.

"Courage is one of our core values and this is courageous, but it's not a decision made lightly and we think it's a good one. New home, new team, new colours; the timing's right.

"We have limited means of generating revenue so want to do everything in our means to help our cause while also providing a top-class entertainment package for the people of Canterbury."

The Press