The one attack Crowe couldn't see off

News that Martin Crowe had cancer was first reported just over a month after the legendary cricketer's 50th birthday.

"It is very treatable. It is not aggressive," Crowe said in a statement released on October 18, 2013, two days after media first reported he had received a diagnosis of lymphoma.

Crowe believed illnesses picked up while touring as a professional cricketer had weakened his immune system and made him vulnerable to the disease.

"In the past, on travels during my cricket career, suffering salmonella and glandular fever has compromised me," he said. "The result of a weakened immune system over the last two decades is basically why I have become exposed to this sort of disease."

The cancer had affected the lymph nodes in his neck, armpits and stomach but Crowe remained positive and "overwhelmed by the support and concern by so many around the world".

"My mindset and fierce focus has kicked in just like it did when approaching a long innings in a Test match.

I will focus on the important things in front of me, and nothing else."

Crowe's treatment initially went well. By June 2013 he was reportedly in partial remission.

However 14 months later he began experiencing back pain and his doctor confirmed his lymphoma had returned in an even more aggressive form, double-hit lymphoma. Crowe used his Twitter account to inform the world.

"After a brilliant year of self discovery and recovery, I have more work to do," he tweeted. "My friend and tough taskmaster Lymphoma is back to teach me."

He later expanded: "To say you can't beat lymphoma is not quite true, many have. Yet follicular lymphoma is incurable, and can be treated and tamed for many long years.

"I feel much wiser and better equipped to deal with the situation than I was last time. I'll get stuck into the treatment again with the same resolve and positivity."

There was speculation he might not live to see New Zealand co-host the 2015 Cricket World Cup, which he addressed in a December 20, 2014 column for website ESPN Cricinfo following the death of Australian player Phillip Hughes.

"Death is something I have contemplated lately, only because the medical experts say it's nearly time," he wrote.

"[T]o hear it had transformed into a rare blood disease called double-hit lymphoma, turbocharged to apparently give me very little time left (only 5 per cent of patients live up to 12 months), was a shock out of the blue ...

"I tidied up my affairs, as they suggested, sold the farm (literally), wrote out a will and a funeral note, and braced myself. It's fair to say I thought the situation was a tad unfair."

On January 7 last year, Crowe held a 25-minute press conference on the Eden Park turf detailing how much he was looking forward to the World Cup. He admitted he had not expected to see out 2014 and was no longer seeing doctors or receiving treatment.

Just over two months later, at the same venue, he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in front of a sellout crowd for the World Cup pool match between New Zealand and Australia. Afterwards he told England's Times newspaper: "You ask yourself if you want to live. It's a real question. Do you want to die? Have you had enough? I know as a father and as a husband, as a son and a brother, I clearly have not had enough. But I've stopped fighting the fight."


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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