Martin Crowe: NZ's greatest batsman

4:42 pm on 3 March 2016

TRIBUTE: Martin Crowe will be remembered as New Zealand's greatest batsman but also as one who demanded the utmost high standards of himself and those around him.

Others may have more flattering statistics but none had the class and grace of Martin David Crowe, who died today aged 53.

To say that he was poetry in motion may sound twee but it was simply true.

His cover drive, the straight drive, the cut shot - he made it all look so effortless and always with so much time.

He played 77 tests from 1982-1995 and scored 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36.

Crowe came into the New Zealand side as 19-year-old having been marked for higher honours from an early age.

The fearsome Australia fast bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomspon were still strutting their stuff and the West Indies were still in their pomp.

The esteem in which he was held on the international stage, was highlighted when English county side Somerset signed the 21-year-old Crowe as a replacement for the incomparable West Indies batsman Viv Richards.

Every young cricketer in their backyard wanted to be Martin Crowe with his Duncan Fearnley Magnum blade.

By the end of his Test career, he was New Zealand's highest run-scorer, having scored 17 test centuries - still the most by any New Zealand batsman.

Martin Crowe elegantly cuts against Australia in the 1992/93 series.

Martin Crowe elegantly cuts against Australia in the 1992/93 series. Photo: Photosport

I had the privilege to be on hand to see his first and last centuries - and a few in between.

His first came against England at the Basin Reserve in 1984.

He made 100 in an innings that included 19 boundaries. Crowe peppering the pickets with exquisite cover drives.

His last century was against England at Old Trafford in Manchester in 1994 and was a rescue mission, an innings of guts and determination.

Batting on pretty much one leg because of ongoing knee problems, which ultimately ended his career, he batted for five and half hours in making 118 to salvage a draw, with he and Adam Parore putting on a record sixth wicket stand of 141.

His 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991 stood as the highest score by a New Zealander until it was surpassed by Brendan McCullum's 302 against India in 2014.

Crowe captained the side from 1990-93, leading New Zealand to the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup tournament where New Zealand lost to Pakistan.

Martin Crowe bats.
1992 Cricket World Cup, New Zealand v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, February 22 1992.

Photo: Photosport

But while Crowe is undoubtedly New Zealand's greatest batsman, he also had his demons.

Much was expected of him but he expected even more of himself.

He obsessed over improving his game and expected the same from those around him, despite his team-mates not being able to come close talent wise.

The glass was always half empty, never half full.

He was haunted by that innings of 299 - and failing to become the first New Zealander to score a triple test century.

The former New Zealand international John Morrison played alongside Crowe in his debut against Australia in 1982 and then acted as his manager for five years.

"Cricket can be a bit romantic at times but in terms of style and the way he looked and the way he batted he was without equal," he said.

"He wore his heart on his sleeve and he got quite emotional about a lot of things. At one stage he even burnt his New Zealand blazer over the Ross Taylor captaincy saga.

Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor pose for a picture at the 2013/14 New Zealand Cricket Annual Awards dinner.

Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor at the New Zealand Cricket awards in 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"The cricket community is like any other, we all have our own fights and arguments and I had a few with Martin and I disagreed with some of the things he did, but there is no limit to the respect I had for his ability. He was simply quite stunning."

"He got worked up about a number of things and over worked up too....but it was because he was just so passionate about the game."

Crowe was diagnosed with lymphoma in October 2012, a disease he described as "a friend and taskmaster".

It went into remission, but returned in September 2014.

He was inducted into Cricket's Hall of Fame during the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Martin Crowe is inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame during the ICC Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. February 2015.

Martin Crowe is inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame during the ICC Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. February 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The funeral for Martin Crowe will be held at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral next Friday, starting at 1pm.

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