- Cricket great Martin Crowe dies aged 53
- Russell Crowe's emotional tribute
- Obituary: Elegant batter was a pleasure to watch
Let the record show what the register does not, that for at least a month Martin Crowe was the best batsman in the world, and in the conversation for much longer than that, and always in his era was the best to watch. The month was the period of the 1992 World Cup, in which Crowe led New Zealand to the threshold of the final and he was named player of the tournament. Crowe had style, which is both a look and an attitude. Cricket writer Jarrod Kimber might have been thinking of that time when he wrote that to witness Crowe's cover drive was like seeing Jesus.
Cricket legend Martin Crowe dies aged 53
Considered one of the greatest cricketers to ever play the game, New Zealand legend Martin Crowe has died, aged 53. Vision: Stuff.co.nz
The best way to sum up Crowe is that he was everything and nothing like his recently retired successor, Brendon McCullum. Everything like McCullum, because he was a captain who dared. Scale alone says that New Zealand won't ever conquer the cricket world by force. Crowe, like McCullum, devised other ways. In the 1992 World Cup, he opened the batting with a slogger, the bowling with a spinner and followed up with "dibbly dobblies", tailoring tactics to talent and conditions. It sounds textbook now, but was radical then. Crowe was his own team's counterpoint, batting with sublime orthodoxy for a tournament average of 114. The Kiwis were about to win their semi-final when a then unknown called Inzamam Ul Haq tugged the carpet out from beneath them.
Nothing like McCullum, because as men and batsmen, they could hardly have been more different. McCullum was on his own cognisance rough-hewn, but hewn none the less. The same could be said of his batting. Crowe was a classicist as a batsman and an aesthete in his tastes. His batting spoke for itself; he was the Kiwis' replica of Greg Chappell, standing tall, playing straight, timing sweetly. His personal life posed questions in earthy New Zealand, until at last he tired of the rumours and innuendo and asked a question of his own to journalists: "Do you think I'm a homosexual?"
He was a man who enjoyed the fine things in life, but the finest of those always was cricket, and in this he and McCullum are forever as one. He served the game as a coach, mentor and thought-provoking commentator, ever vigilant about the game's dignity, even as illness overtook him. He did not know McCullum well, but grew to love his work as player and captain. He was tortured by missing the 1992 final, also to have failed by one to become the first Kiwi to make a triple century. When McCullum at length did, Crowe wrote a column entitled: "How McCullum helped me to let go." It is a sentiment that would have recurred in his mind during last year's World Cup.
In creative endeavours, New Zealanders punch above their weight. Their best cricket has also been their most creative. In 2015 as in 1992, it took them a long, long way. Hopefully it was balm to Martin Crowe in his final days that another Kiwi, Kane Williamson, was briefly and formally the best batsman in the world, and is still at the forefront of the conversation.