I never watched Martin Crowe bat.
At least, I don’t think I did. If I did, I can’t recall much anymore. Perhaps, clips of his batting are available on YouTube to refresh my memory.
Remember these were the days before satellite television and the matches telecast were mostly India games or the World Cup.
Martin Crowe, however, will go down as New Zealand’s greatest batsman accompanied by Sir Richard Hadlee as their greatest all-rounder.
It was an era that saw a small cricketing nation punch much above its weight.
Besides his stellar batsmanship, Crowe is also remembered for his innovative ODI captaincy during the 1992 World Cup.
This was the Cup that saw a prodigal South Africa return to the fold. Jonty Rhodes’ fielding exploits and a heart-breaking exit in the semi-finals against England defined their World Cup campaign.
The Cup was Pakistan’s though; from almost being eliminated to clinching five games in a row to secure Imran Khan’s dream of a cancer hospital named for his mother.
New Zealand were co-hosts—much like last year’s World Cup where they went one better and made the final under Brendon McCullum’s stewardship.
Crowe made some dynamic changes to the game—opening the batting with a pinch-hitter, Mark Greatbatch. This set the stage for Sanath Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharna’s pairing in the 1996 World Cup co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
But it was his utilization of off-spinner Dipak Patel at the top of the bowling that paid rich dividends and had their opponents in a tizzy.
Martin Crowe continued to love his cricket, writing for CricInfo while battling his terminal disease. He also returned to the first-class game temporarily but his cancer relapsed.
The Kiwi great is no more. His funeral was held yesterday.
May his soul rest in peace.
To tell you the truth, I did not really watch much of this World Cup’s final featuring Australia and New Zealand.
Switching on the telly after returning from morning Mass, with Brendon McCullum gone cheaply, it would be an uphill task for the Kiwis to compile a formidable total. Two more quick wickets followed and I switched off the set-top box.
For a partisan Indian supporter like me, the final held no thrills or attraction. Most World Cup finals have been one-sided affairs and there was no reason for me to believe otherwise.
Catching up with the morning news, Michael Clarke’s farewell announcing the final would be his ODI swansong caught my eyes.
“A World Cup victory would be a great way to sign off,” were my immediate thoughts. And I dwelled again on the emotional eulogy he delivered at Philip Hughes’ funeral. Clarke will always have his share of detractors but that was the day he displayed how far he has travelled from being ‘Pup’ and the ‘Bad Boy’ of Australian cricket.
Noon and the Kiwis had folded up for 183. Despite Sunil Gavaskar’s vain attempts at drawing comparisons between the ’83 final and Sunday’s mismatch to keep viewer interest in the game alive, it was evident that barring a miracle the Australians were well on their way to being crowned five-time champions.
It was so, with Clark crafting a well-made 74.
Australians were world-beaters yet again.
The quarters are over and the winners gave no quarter. Well, almost.
The results followed the dictates of the form book.
South Africa defied the odds and tore up the ‘chokers‘ tag. Perhaps, this is the Cup that will cheer the Proteas .
India made the semis but not before having to overcome some tight bowling in the first 35 overs. They were also the beneficiaries of three decidedly dubious decisions from the umpires. The result could have been much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Pakistan’s batting failed again but Wahab Riaz took the fight to the Australians in an inspired spell of fast bowling that had Shane Watson hopping, skipping and jumping like a cat on a hot tin roof.
New Zealand had it pretty much wrapped up when they scored close to 400 runs with Martin Guptill registering the second double-century of the tournament. The primary prima donna record holder Chris Gayle flattered to deceive in a brief stay at the wicket. The West Indies captain Jason Holder impressed one and all with his composure under pressure.
What he said:
“It kind of felt like I was the library in a theme park.”
Kane Williamson played second fiddle to his skipper Brendon McCullum at Christchurch where the latter ratcheted up 195 off 134 balls to set up a victory over tourists Sri Lanka.
“After lunch on that first day, I was struggling in Christchurch and Brendon was whacking it to all parts. It kind of felt like I was the library in a theme park. He was doing everything and I was watching. It’s fantastic the way he’s going – it’s something most of us have never seen before.”
“When you’re playing with him you can’t compete with what Brendon’s doing. You just stick to your game. Sometimes it highlights the fact that you need to stick around so he can keep playing with that freedom. When he is playing like that and doing what he’s doing, he develops the game and pushes it forward in our favour. It’s slightly dangerous at the other end – you have to watch it, but it’s something special to watch.
When Brendon’s in that mode he looks very relaxed. You can get excited when he’s doing that, and think ‘jeepers’, but I’m sure everyone has been thinking that. At the same time he’s been very calculating. Sometimes it doesn’t look like it, but from ball one, he’s been measured with his approach. In the last match it was tough to drive so he wanted to hit through the line. He did that and it went a long way.”
What he really meant:
“I felt like I was a studious student watching an explosive expert at work.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Boom Boom Brendon! Silent Knight Kane!”
Image via Wikipedia
The IPL show moves on.
The IPL player auctions are scheduled for January 8 and 9 in Bangalore. Over 400 players will go under the hammer.
Each team has a cap of $9 million to be played with.
Only two teams have opted to retain their full complement of four players—Mumbai Indians and Chennai SuperKings. Their kitty is whittled down to $4.5 million.
The cricketers have been classified into six brackets—ranging from $20,000 to $400,000.