Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells on cricket

Jeremy Wells: NZ's Black Caps - a team name ripe for the plucking

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Kyle Mills of Auckland. Photo / Getty Images
Kyle Mills of Auckland. Photo / Getty Images

It's always nice to start afresh. I find Spray n' Wiping the bench top helps me to think better. Oftentimes I clean the house before embarking on a new journey.

I bet there are folks at New Zealand Cricket who wish they could simply Spray n' Wipe their bench top and start again this year. Some permanently disgruntled fans are calling for the commercial cleaners. I'm not sure whether New Zealand Cricket's recently anointed PR consultants Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson offer additional cleaning services but it may be wise to at least look into hiring a Rug Doctor for a day.

Maybe they could start by looking at the name of the New Zealand cricket team.

Unfortunately, most of the world think of a blackcap as a type of warbler commonly found in Europe. It's hardly an iconic bird. In fact, you'd probably run it over if you saw it on the road. On the island of Crete, locals love snaring them, plucking them and then slow cooking them with tomatoes, olives and thyme.

Not my cup of tea but I'm told it's delicious.

My guess is that the Black Caps' rebranding originated from the same wound that produced every other All Black derivative name from the late 90s including the Black Sox, the Black Sticks, the Tall Blacks and the Black Ferns - the latter an impossible melange between the All Blacks and our national netball team the Silver Ferns. Add to the list White Ferns and All Whites and you have an impressive collection of the least original sporting names of any nation in the OECD. Thank goodness someone in the New Zealand badminton administration mocked this national folly by calling themselves the Black Cocks.

Sadly, our constant desire to dress anything resembling hogget into mutton flows deeper into our national digestive tract than just sports branding.

New Zealand's penchant for town rebranding at one stage reached epidemic proportions. It was only the introduction of the National Government's Regional Rebranding Regulation Bill in 2009 which helped stem the tide of insane town tag-lines. But the scars still remain.

For years the places where we lived seemed malcontent to simply just be. The way we changed how towns were sold to potential tourists or non-tourists tended to follow the same pattern; the council would first be sold on the need for change, then the marketing company would conduct research on the current perceptions of the town by outsiders, and finally a tag line would be created that negated the research's findings. This method brought about some of the most superbly illustrated paradoxes in our brief but impressively embarrassing history.

Under this remarkable system, Hamilton, a place which according to visitors researched possessed nothing at all of interest, was rebranded "More Than You'd Expect". Taumarunui, considered by many to be in the middle of nowhere geographically, was optimistically titled 'The Centre of Everywhere" and potential visitors to Wanganui, who were put off by the fact that it's totally off the beaten track, were enticed by the tag-line "Well Worth the Journey".

Sometimes I yearn for a return to simpler times when towns lured people with the grand idea of a unique experience in the world capital of something irrelevant like gumboots, carrots or brown trout.

Invercargill was once known as the City of Smiles, and while southerners are considered more hospitable than their northern cousins, particularly towards Pakeha and heterosexuals, it's hard to imagine more actual smiling occurring in Invercargill than, say, on the Coromandel Peninsula.

How refreshing it was to discover a few years ago that the West Coast of the South Island had simply rebranded itself "The West Coast of the Southern Alps". Genius. If I were NZ Cricket I'd be looking up that agency immediately.

- NZ Herald

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