Friends and foes pay tribute to Martin Crowe

By David Leggat

Martin Crowe was "the guy you always went to" for advice according to former international allrounder Chris Harris.

Crowe, who died today, aged 53, of double hit lymphoma, captained Harris for much of his New Zealand career. Harris said he was left "absolutely devastated" by the news.

"He gave me so much but I guess (the main thing) was that belief in yourself. Some of the batting stuff was simple but when you heard it from someone of his calibre it reinforced it. Stand still, watch it, hit it. Sounds pretty basic but to me that was great advice at that time.

"Anything that came from him from a technical point of view you listened. From a batting point of view he's one of the best technicans we've had ever."

Harris, part of the New Zealand team which marched to the 1992 World Cup semifinals under Crowe's inspired leadership, reflected that that was the most upbeat he had seen Crowe during his career.

"His plans were working and it was a time everyone involved in that side would never forget. A major part of that was down to, not only his play, but the way he captained the side.

"He was a bit of a mentor of mine, someone so willing to help, and he was amazing for my development, because he was such a great player and happy to give anything he thought might help your game."

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Former Australian captain Allan Border held Martin Crowe in the highest esteem.

"I'll miss the quirky, intelligent humour he brought to the table. He was top shelf as far as cricket is concerned, as good as I've seen," Australian batting great Border said today.

"Technically he was absolutely fantastic. He had a presence at the crease and if you combine that with the cricket smarts he possessed you're going to have a pretty good package. It's a pretty simple formula, and he had it in spades."

Border rated Crowe's captaincy highly and maintained if Crowe had been fit during the World Cup semifinal against Pakistan at Eden Park in 1992 New Zealand would have won that match.

A hamstring injury meant he was unable to take the field for the second half of the match which Pakistan won with a late flurry of runs from Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"Personally I think New Zealand should have won the World Cup in 1992 under his leadership."

Border puts Crowe in the highest echelon of players he played against. He rates Crowe on a par with Sir Richard Hadlee as New Zealand's best cricketers.

"You'd almost bracket them. It's one thing to take the wickets but someone's got to score the runs as well. Thos two, when they were playing in the same team, New Zealand were a very very competitive team.

"I rated him very very highly."

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Former teammate Ian Smith knew Crowe as both a teammate and later as a colleague, describing his former co-commentator as one of cricket's most strategic thinkers.

"His thinking on the game was sometimes a year ahead in terms of strategy and on where the game was heading. But because he was Martin Crowe and a Kiwi, I don't think the ICC were prepared to give him too much of a head start there.

"As a commentator, he could see the game unfolding as quickly as anyone I have ever worked with. He could read bowler's and batsman's mind better than most. I think that was one of the saddest things about it - we weren't able to hear that for years."

Smith also said Crowe was "born to play cricket" and nothing was going to stop him from becoming a world-class batsman.

"I got to know him pretty well and saw what he needed to go through to perform at that level and how he relaxed, how he got focused, and that in itself was a lesson to all and it was privileged for me to be able to see it.

"I don't think we will ever see his style, his grace, his presence at the crease again."

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Warren Lees, former New Zealand wicketkeeper and coach at 1992 World Cup, said Crowe gave New Zealand cricketers a belief.

''He stuck with the task he was so determined to achieve. He was just the most amazing person. He had a plan well out from the World Cup and it was all about building a balanced team, but also a team where people believed in their ability, and we had some serious doubters in that team.

''I was so fortunate that two people who were poles apart, you couldn't come from more varying backgrounds than him and I, got on so well. We never had a cross word."

Having coached Crowe at one of his greatest moments, the 1992 Cricket World Cup, Lees said the batsman changed cricket in this country.

"I think he changed New Zealand cricket, not as much as Brendon McCullum, but he brought a belief we never had. For some of those players he wasn't the easiest player to follow. But in the end they all hugely respected him."

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Another former teammate, Andrew Jones, who shared a then-world record 467-run stand for the third wicket with Crowe at the Basin Reserve against Sri Lanka in 1991, has said in a message to the Herald website: "Truly great player. It was a privilege to have played with him. RIP Hogan."

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Martin Guptill, mentored by Crowe, took to Instagram to remember his friend: "Today we lost a legend of our game. Not only was he a great sportsman but more importantly a great human. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor and friend to help me through the last couple of years. You inspired me to become a better person on and off the field. I will miss you. #RIPHogan #FootworkGup"

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Former Australian batsman Dean Jones wrote: "Just heard the news of Martin Crowe's passing. Brilliant player and ambassador for our game. Sympathies to Jeff and the family. #Hogan"

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Former New Zealand batsman Scott Styris tweeted: "So sad to hear news of Martin Crowe passing away. For those of us who grew up watching cricket in the 80s, we owe him immensely."

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Former Australian batsman Tom Moody has tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear that Martin Crowe has passed away, master batsman & one of the great thinkers in our game."

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Recently retired New Zealand seamer Kyle Mills tweeted: "Blown away by the news of Martin Crowe. True Legend, RIP mate."

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Former Australian captain Michael Clarke tweeted: ''You will always be a legend in my eyes. Thank you for all your help and advice. Now you can rest." (From Michael Clarke).

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Martin Crowe 1962-2016

September 22, 1962 - born in Henderson, Auckland to parents Audrey and Dave Crowe of Titirangi.

1968 - joined Cornwall Cricket Club, establishing a lifelong link.

1976-1980 - attended Auckland Grammar, becoming deputy head boy in his final year and, in addition to cricket commitments, a wing in the first XV.

January 19, 1980 - made his first-class debut for Auckland v Canterbury at Eden Park, aged 17 years and 119 days, scored 51 in maiden innings.

June 12, 1981 - first appears in the New Zealand Herald, relating to his century for the MCC Young Cricketers in a one-day match against an MCC XI which included former England captain Colin Cowdrey. Crowe was on a six-month scholarship with the Lord's ground staff.

February 13, 1982 - made one-day international debut v Australia at Auckland, did not bat.

February 26, 1982 - made test debut v Australia at Wellington, run out for nine.

January 23, 1984 - made his maiden test century at the Basin Reserve to save the match against England.

1984-1988 - played for English county Somerset.

1985 - named one of the five annual Wisden cricketers of the year.

1986-87 - scored the most runs in a domestic summer (1676 at 93.11, including eight centuries).

October 10, 1990 - became New Zealand's 20th test captain, against Pakistan in Karachi.

1991 - married Simone Curtice.

February 4, 1991 - completed New Zealand's highest test score of 299, a feat that lasted 23 years. In doing so, participated in a world record partnership of 467 with Andrew Jones for the third wicket. Named sportsman of the year in relation to the feat.

February-March 1992 - captained New Zealand to the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup at home, wins player of the tournament for his inspirational batting and innovative captaincy.

June 16, 1994 - made his second test century at Lord's; remains the only New Zealander to score more than one in 84 years and 17 visits.

July 5, 1994 - made his 17th and final test century v England at Manchester, still a national record.

July 1995 - published first autobiography Out On A Limb.

November 12, 1995 - completed his 77th and final test v India at Cuttack, caught for 15.

November 26, 1995 - completed his 143rd and final ODI v India at Nagpur, stumped for 63.

1995-2002 - invented, developed, marketed and broadcast Cricket Max, the pre-cursor to Twenty20.

1997 - joined Sky Television and worked as a cricket commentator, eventually rising to executive producer by his 2012 exit. Brought regular weekly broadcasts of First XV rugby to screens for the first time, along with other notable documentary series such as The Chosen Ones and The Mantis And The Cricket.

2001 - inducted into the New Zealand sports hall of fame and awarded an MBE for services to cricket.

April, 2003 - daughter Emma is born.

2006 - became the first New Zealander invited to deliver the annual 'Cowdrey Lecture' at Lords, on 'the spirit of cricket'.

2009 - married Lorraine Downes.

November 5, 2011 - returned to club cricket for Cornwall reserves with the aim of being selected for Auckland and hauling in the 392 runs required to take him to 20,000 at first-class level. Fifteen days later the bid was over as he iced a left thigh muscle at 4am on the Sunday morning.

October 2012 - diagnosed with follicular lymphoma.

December 7, 2012 - tweeted he had burnt his New Zealand blazer after the treatment of Ross Taylor after his demotion as national captain, an action he later said was metaphorical.

June 2013 - announced chemotherapy treatment had restored him to normal health.

June 2013 - published second autobiography Raw.

September 16, 2014 - tweeted his cancer had returned.

February 28, 2015 - inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame.

- NZ Herald

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