New Zealand has become a laughing stock among cricketing powers, after it announced a move to remove a controversial logo featuring a giant white cricket bat on the front cover of its national cricket newspaper.
“Crickets are dead” was printed on the cover of the weekly New Zealand Herald on Friday.
“The white bat symbolises New Zealand’s history, our culture, our values and our love of cricket,” the paper said in a statement.
“We want New Zealanders to know that this is not a sign of disrespect or a sign that cricket is dying, but rather a reflection of the positive spirit of New Zealand cricket.”
In a statement on the Herald’s website, the paper called for a change to the paper’s front cover.
“This new cover is a reflection and a celebration of New Zealander culture and its history,” the statement said.
“It also includes a powerful message that the new cover will reflect the New Zealand values and ideals.”
The Herald said the change to its cover, to take effect in 2020, would not affect the paper and “is not in line with the views and policies of the New York-based publisher.”
The newspaper said it was “in favour of celebrating New Zealand and the game of cricket as a nation”.
New Zealand will not be the first country to remove the cricket bat from the cover.
In 2013, South Africa scrapped the bat logo and replaced it with a smaller one.
A year later, the Zimbabwean national cricket team announced it would be replacing the bat with a “white” one.
“After nearly a century in the spotlight, cricket is still not dead,” said former Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting.
“There are still millions of passionate fans who play the game in their homes, at their bars and pubs and at their club matches.
We should not forget that.”
Australia’s decision in the wake of the World Cup in England to replace the bat symbol with a larger version, as well as the Australian team’s refusal to play under the new logo, prompted a backlash.
“I don’t want to see Australia lose out on a World Cup,” said the former Test captain Ricky Ponty, who was an ambassador for cricket in South Africa from 2002-07.
“What they’re doing is the same as what England did, they’re putting the bat on a giant poster, a giant, white bat.”
The bats of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have also been replaced with white bats.
“People will look at New Zealand in the eyes and they’ll think that cricket and our culture is dying,” Ponty said.
Former New Zealand batsman Shane Warne tweeted that “Crickes” were “dumbing” down the game.
“You’ll be watching cricket in 2020 on the big, white, bat,” Warne said.
Australian batsman David Warner tweeted: “I think it’s going to be an embarrassment for New Zealand to lose out like that.
If you’re going to remove it, just do it.”
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David Humphreys said in an email to journalists that the bat was an “essential part of our identity”.
“The bat has been an integral part of New England’s cricket history for a long time,” Humphreys wrote.
“Its symbolic value to us is one that is not going to go away anytime soon.”
The bat logo is “an integral part” of New York’s cricket identity, Humphreys told reporters.
While we are not the only ones, New Zealand is an important part of the game, and the bat is an integral, iconic part of that.”