This title will likely be quite bewildering to many- ‘Black caps’! Caps that are black, what’s special about that!’ To get a wee bit of understanding about it one needs to understand how Kiwis (New Zealanders or people who live in Aotearoa/New Zealand) associate with ‘black’.
Black is probably our national colour. Colour? We know that black isn’t a colour, rather it’s total lack of colour! Yeah! Right. But despite that it’s the ‘colour’ that our national sports teams are generally outfitted in, or if they are in a sport that traditionally wears another ‘colour’ as cricket traditionally wears white (again, not a colour as much as a combination of every colour!) will either use in their ‘nickname’ or will have as part of their ‘uniform’.
Of course there are neat little variations on the theme such as the label for our national soccer team is the ALL WHITES who play in… all white! Or the national indoor basketball team being known as the TALL BLACKS and you guessed it, they play in black.
Our national symbol, apart from the iconic kiwi is the silver fern, so named because on the underside of the lovely green leaf it is silver in colour. This also gets involved in our national branding- all national teams wear the silver fern over their hearts, the fern logo is used by fans and businesses, and it also crops up on Team’s names at times. Our national netball team is called the SILVER FERNS, and they play in black.
Our national field hockey team is called the BLACK STICKS.
And so it goes. BUT…
The BLACK CAPS are a continual source of mixed feelings in this nation. They are a little bit like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her ‘forrid’ (forehead). When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid! We have has many, many very good cricketers over the years, and we have had some very good teams. We have beaten the best in the world, but we have also ‘horridly’ been humiliated by losing to absolute bunnies. We have just returned from a tour in the sub continent where we were roundly thumped in all forms of the game by Sri Lanka (can just about manage that) and also BANGLADESH for goodness sake. Bangladesh, who a very few years ago were the absolute worst and easy beats for all and sundry. I don’t know how Outer Mongolia got on against them, but I’m sure it would have been a close-run thing!
So imagine the state the national psyche was in when we lost tests, one dayers and 20/20 matches to them! Aaargh!
But just as a week is a long time in politics, so a week or so seems to be able to work wonders for the Black Caps. They have just made us extremely proud as a nation by beating the West Indies 2-0 in a three test series (that only the weather stopped us achieving a ‘clean sweep’ in.) Admittedly it was at home on pitches that suit our bowlers better but it was our bowlers who returned with reputations reasonably intact from the ‘horrid’ tour. No, these were results achieved by a team. Almost all batsmen performed with credit, and certainly all bowlers did a grand job.
So, BLACKCAPS, almost all is forgiven and we will be happy to sit down at our TV or at the grounds in keen expectation of a similar result in the limited over series, then for you to wing your way to the Windies to make their year an ‘annus horribilus’.