Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells on cricket

Jeremy Wells: Open letter to Brendon McCullum

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Brendon McCullum. Photo / Getty Images
Brendon McCullum. Photo / Getty Images

Dear Brendon,

Hope you don't think I'm odd writing an open letter when I could send you a private email, it's just that after Hoges' "Open Letter to New Zealand Batsmen", open letters have become fashionable again. And I'm not embarrassed to say that I'm a whore when it comes to fashion.

Let me start by congratulating you on your team's performance over the past few months. I've really enjoyed the way you've led the team this year. I think there were lots of cricket fans who wondered whether you were leadership material but you have shown that you are more than just a captain - you look like you've inspired the players around you to perform better too.

I understand it's not easy being a tattooed cricketer. Cricket supporters in New Zealand are a conservative bunch. To many tattoos are things you get when you're in port, drunk with your shipmates. They quietly live in fear that tattooed role models will influence their own kids to ink up. Some lay awake at night concerned their offspring may get out on Saturday morning pre-meditating a reverse sweep, then later head to the local tat house to have a nude woman scratched into their arm.

Paranoia and superstition permeate our summer sport like Wet and Forget permeates the porous surfaces of pathways.

Nevertheless, most cricket fans in this country genuinely love the game and love being entertained. I've watched every game this year. I was there to see you play in Napier, and while we lost the game I'll never forget that 74 of yours.

It was great to see you and Ross Taylor batting together. Ross played the anchor role and fed you the strike brilliantly while you made the England bowlers look like schoolboys. They had no idea where to bowl to you. If they pitched up you went straight, if they bowled short you smashed them square. It was 36 balls of pure entertainment. There's something unusual about watching a cricketer wearing a stylised silver fern humiliate the opposition. It just doesn't happen that often. The last time I remember a New Zealand batsman dominated England was when Nathan Astle smashed that 222 against England at Lancaster Park. I still watch that DVD.

Our cricketing heroes are battlers. Look back and you'll see Hadlee, Chats and Wrighty. If a player in the 80s or 90s had style then there'd be a rumour about an incident involving tromboning that accompanied them.

But I'd like to think that we're moving on as a country. Last week's nail-biting draw against England gripped the nation. Dressed superbly by Ian Smith's energetic television commentary, test cricket put on its number ones and showed the public why it can't be beaten for dramatic tension.

I've heard a lot of whingers talk about our cricket team's lack of character and fight over the years. Normally they're people who have never faced bowlers who can deliver the ball fast enough to hurt. But I don't hear anyone criticising the team now. You can take a huge amount of credit for that.

So let me be the first to write an open letter congratulating you for your contribution to a really interesting summer of cricket - one of the best in living memory.

I'm sure in three years' time, when we've climbed the rankings and can consistently beat the best teams in the world, even diehard dissers like Mark Whatshisface from Radio Sport will be climbing on the bandwagon.

- NZ Herald

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