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.
What he said:
“What we did was in the first game of the tournament, we were playing the Yellow Team. We just called them the Yellow Team. We played Zimbabwe at Napier, we called them the Red Team. Pakistan was the Green Team. That made us focus on what we needed to do as a team to beat that Yellow Team. That took away some of the emotion.”
Former New Zealand seam-up bowler, Gavin Larsen, reveals the psychological mindset behind the extraordinary performance of the Kiwis team at the ’92 World Cup.
“We had some good experience in the team. A lot of guys had played a lot of cricket domestically and for New Zealand. It wasn’t a young, raw, immature team. First and foremost, there was some mental strength across the individuals in the team. The other thing that I do remember is how Martin Crowe insisted that we depersonalised each of the teams. New Zealand has played Australia in the past and you can get caught in the Trans-Tasman hype – playing the old enemy from across the ditch.”
What he really meant:
“We, of course, were the All-Blacks. It wasn’t that hard a stretch to color code our opponents. And we certainly made them eat Crowe.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“How’s that for Emotional Intelligence?”
What he said:
“Well, people think I’m having a mid-life crisis. And I can only say ‘too right!’”
New Zealand’s finest batsman ever, Martin Crowe, returns to club cricket in his 50th year.
“Call it a silly little selfish challenge, just like someone trying to run a marathon at 49. Well, I can’t do that because of my knees so I’m going to have a bit of fun with a bat in my hand again.”
Crowe terms his comeback “a long-shot experiment to see if a 50 year-old can still wield a bat.”
The Kiwi hopes to turn out for the MCC against English county champions Lancashire in Abu Dhabi next year.
“That game’s being played with a pink ball, which I’m a big supporter of as a member of the MCC World Committee, who have been driving the idea for three years. To be selected would make all the hard work worthwhile for me.”
Crowe feels up to fresh challenges:
“I was bored. When you reach 50, you’ve got to think about doing things to keep on top of your health. I was tired of the gym; I don’t swim, cycle, climb or run, so I thought ‘why not do something I love?’”
The maestro feels that he still retains the hand-eye co-ordination of his heyday.
Actually, I feel just as good as a batsman now. I’m playing late, playing straight and timing it. It’s just a case of how the body can cope with a long innings; the fatigue factor just kicks in a lot quicker.
But I had my hand-eye co-ordination and balance tested by the optometrist who did it back in 1992 and he’s found I’m 20 per cent faster than back then. I’m finishing every session with a smile on my face.
Here’s one cricketing great who has no complaints about the improvements in technology:
“Today’s equipment? Unbelievable. I dread to think of the damage that Ian Botham and Viv Richards would have done with them.”
What Martin Crowe really meant:
“Well, at least, I’m not spending it all on a sports car and a fresh wife (Crowe is married to former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes).Isn’t that customary? “
What Martin Crowe definitely didn’t: