A Tribute to Martin Crowe!
One of the finest Kiwis to have graced the cricket fields, passed away last week; leaving many a cricket lovers in sadness whom he thrilled with his batting prowess, whether in the Eden Park or in the Indian subcontinent. One of the classiest batsmen of his era and an inspiration for many in the New Zealand side which have scaled new heights recently under McCullum, the batsman who made his mark very early in a talented but underperforming Kiwi side, been the star of the 92 World Cup, heroically leading the black Caps to the semis and a heart breaking defeat to Pakistan at Auckland; fought a battle too good for him at the end. The Follicular lymphoma was too much even for Martin Crowe, who never swayed in front of Waqar and Wasim, Ambrose and Walsh and the Allan Donalds, Glenn McGraths and Brett Lees of his era.
I came to know about this promising but raw Kiwi, when I saw him play for the first time in the summer of 83 in England, when the pace of Bob Willis seemed too much for him and his elder brother Jeff. He had made his debut the year before at home vs Australia while still a teenager and to be honest didn’t quite make an impression and if for not a very ordinary batting reserve lineup, he might have not been given much chances after his relative failures in the first year or two. The persistence of the selectors and the faith paid off in the way of one of the finest batsmen New Zealand had produced, with the likes of John Reid. Only Kane Williamson and probably Ross Taylor comes any closer in the current team. He was a complete batsman with excellent defensive prowess and an attacking instinct which could dominate any bowler whether the guile of Warne or the pace of Waqar.
By the end of his Test career, he was New Zealand’s highest run-getter and century-maker, scorer of 10,000 international runs. His best performances might have been at his home ground at the Eden Park, known for its short boundaries which he knew off the back of his hand. The highlight was his 299, then the highest score by a Kiwi in test Matches till broken recently by Brendon McCullum. IN all he played 77 Tests and 143 one-day internationals for New Zealand, scoring 5,444 Test runs including 17 centuries. Last year he became the 79th inductee into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame, the third Kiwi to receive the honour. He was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1985.
All those who have benefitted from the exhilarating presence on the cricket field of this great Kiwi, his brilliant strokeplay and utter dominance of the bowlers at times, will always cherish those moments. Once he was the only shining star in a not so brilliant side so far competing against the mighty with the swing and all round prowess of Richard Hadlee who had won them so many unlikely victories. He was a great leader and led the Black Caps from the front, the prime example being the 1992 World Cup, when they became favourites from once outsiders and being declared the best player of the tournament, getting inured at the worst time possible. The destiny was not with him and neither was it at the end when his lymphoma relapsed and he opted not to go for further chemotherapy.
His latter life as a commentator and a columnist shed so much light on his perspective on life and many a readers benefitted from it, coming from a wise man, who had not only seen cricket but life from a close angle from the start to the end. The news of his getting cancer was a big shock to the cricketing world, his failing health and the emaciated face was at times a reminder of what life can bring. Nevertheless his love for cricket never waned as he watched Kiwis play Australia in the World cup Final at Melbourne. We will always remember the Kiwi with a bandana who had such a big heart and won so many the world over with his fine display in the cricketing fields all over!
Rest In Peace M D Crowe !