Toby Manhire is a Wellington-bred, Auckland-based journalist.

Toby Manhire: Crowe was remarkable to the end

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Martin thrilled us by leading New Zealand to near-triumph in the World Cup of 1992. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Martin thrilled us by leading New Zealand to near-triumph in the World Cup of 1992. Photo / Brett Phibbs

I spent a lot of my childhood with my Martin Crowe. He was our one true world-class batsman and, like everyone, I tried in vain to ape his mesmeric, graceful style.

I got The Crowe Style, his biography-cum-coaching-manual co-authored with older brother Jeff, for Christmas and read it several times. I hung a tennis ball from a tree and practised my drive, just like MD Crowe advised.

He thrilled us by leading New Zealand to near-triumph in the World Cup of 1992.

He delighted and puzzled us with the innovative Cricket Max, an idea that was brilliant before its time. Eventually he did the sensible thing and came to play for Wellington, peppering the picket fences with boundaries. He was even on the back of our 1B5 exercise books.

"Set yourself a goal," Martin counselled in the faux-handwriting typeface.

"When you reach it, set yourself another. That's what makes Kiwis special."

I was there with my friend Andrew in the Vance Stand at the Basin in 1991, to watch him fall a run short of a test 300 on the third to last ball of the game. Crowe's howls of frustration leaked up from the dressing room beneath. You could feel his Duncan Fearnley bat bounce off the walls.

In later years, Crowe became a mentor for the likes of Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill. He travelled to Melbourne to watch the Black Caps of 2015 in the World Cup final. He wrote and spoke with rare insight and intelligence about cricket.

As he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis and abandoned the debilitating chemotherapy, Crowe allowed himself a new, public candour, not so much wearing his heart on his sleeve as extending it on his palm. It was remarkable, and uplifting, to behold.

See you in the Max Zone, Hogan.

- NZ Herald

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Toby Manhire is a Wellington-bred, Auckland-based journalist.

Toby Manhire is a Wellington bred, Auckland based journalist. He writes a weekly column for the NZ Herald, the NZ Listener's Internaut column, blogs for listener.co.nz, and contributes to the Guardian. From 2000 to 2010 he worked at the Guardian in London, and edited the 2012 book The Arab Spring: Rebellion, Revolution and a New World Order.

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