Martin Crowe Biography
He started as the younger of two cricketing brothers, but ended up as one of the greatest batsmen ever produced by New Zealand. For quite a while after his Test debut as a 19-year-old, Martin Crowe was hailed as the best young batsman of the world. After a few seasons, the label sounded quite apt even when the age-restriction was removed.
In a faceless New Zealand side of spirited but limited cricketers, Richard Hadlee brought forth a major revolution. Crowe was not far behind, with his impeccable technique and large range of stroke-play. At the wicket, he looked composed against any attack, with plenty of time to play his classy and perfectly timed strokes.
For good measure he was also a useful part-time medium-pacer. And who can forget that catch in the outfield to dismiss David Houghton in the Reliance World Cup 1987?
He carried the batting of the side for years, and after the retirement of Hadlee remained the only major world class player in the line-up. However, with time, injuries took their toll. There were problems with his shin, back, hamstring and finally a dodgy knee.
Yet, he was instrumental in almost revolutionising the One-Day game during the 1992 World Cup, and it was mainly his innovative tactics that carried New Zealand to the semi-finals. Many countries later followed the pattern of opening the bowling with a spinner, as he had done so successfully with Dipak Patel, and the batting with a fast and furious biffer, which, again he had pioneered through Mark Greatbatch.
By the final days of his career, it was a gruelling battle with his own body and its afflictions. New Zealand played only 95 Tests during his career, in contrast to 139 by England, 130 by Australia and 109 by West Indies. However, Crowe missed roughly 20 per cent of them to end with 77. Yet, he did spend enough time in the middle to tote up nearly five-and-a-half thousand Test runs with 17 hundreds, including the first 299 in the history of the game.
Later he became a popular commentator with Sky in New Zealand. An ill-advised attempt at a comeback in his late-forties did not really take off, but he broke the heart of the world when, shorn of hair and battling cancer, he announced that the 2015 World Cup final would be the last match he would ever watch.