Cricket: Glorious 188 a highlight of Crowe's stellar career

By David Leggat

Innings at Brisbane in 1985 helped set up 41-run win against Aussies.
Martin Crowe on the way to his historic 188, which pushed New Zealand’s run total out to 553 for seven, at the time our  highest  in a test.
Martin Crowe on the way to his historic 188, which pushed New Zealand’s run total out to 553 for seven, at the time our highest in a test.

Martin Crowe's 17 test hundreds displayed a range of strengths.

Masterly dominance, defensive craft, perfectly paced innings, he covered the spread depending on the situation he faced.

So how about picking just one. This is a subjective exercise, which could include elements such as whether you watched it live and the imagery stuck, or in the middle of the night and felt cheered, or if the power of radio told a story which resonates in the mind.

Let's go for the one which had a massive impact for New Zealand in Australia: 188 at Brisbane in 1985, which helped to set up a stunning innings and 41-run win.

Richard Hadlee laid the platform, with his superlative nine for 52 in Australia's first-innings 179. Then came Crowe leading the response, pushing the total out to 553 for seven, then New Zealand's highest test total, and until Perth three months ago, still the best against Australia.

Crowe batted a tick over six hours for his third test century, sharing a 224-run stand with John R. Reid for the third wicket and others which added substance with Jeremy Coney, brother Jeff and Vaughan Brown.

Another six wickets from the mighty Hadlee and Australia were dismissed for 333. It remains one of New Zealand's most complete test wins.

But what of Crowe's innings? First Reid, an underrated batsman who averaged 46.28 from his 19 tests, and who made 108, the sixth and last of his hundreds.

"Watching Martin bat so superbly, and me pushing ones and twos at the other end, made for a fantastic platform," he remembered recently.

"Martin was driving past the bowler superbly and, when they dropped short, he cut and pulled impressively, too."

Opening batsman Bruce Edgar recalled the delight at watching Australia having salt rubbed into the wounds after Hadlee's blows.

"Just the way Martin went about his business," Edgar said. "I just loved it, sitting back and watching this continual domination of the Aussies.

"It was absolute class. I always said to Martin 'I'd rather watch you bat than Brian Lara'.

"He played late, it was a technical master class and Australia were on their knees, thinking 'how the heck are we going to get this guy out?'."

Martin Snedden echoed Edgar's thoughts on the Crowe technique, the foundation of his success.

"The Gabba innings was a really significant innings," said Snedden, who also played in that match, also noting the part Reid played.

"He was the one who received the least acknowledgment for what happened in that match. Their partnership was incredibly uplifting in the dressing room.

"We grew in confidence with what they were doing, neither of them were flustered and it went on and on. John was hopelessly under-appreciated as an international cricketer."

For Snedden, what the century contributed to - rather than in pure batsman vs bowlers terms, Australia's attack being good but not among their most formidable - is what made that innings so memorable.

Edgar remembers the drives, down the ground, through the covers.

"He always set himself up to hit straight and got the bowlers to bowl at him. He had all the shots."

Edgar recalled that he and Crowe shared an interest in sports psychology.

"We had no sports psychologist but he was visualising the innings, the match, the bowlers before we were even playing the game. To me, he was a long way ahead of a lot of other people."

The two teammates differ slightly on how Crowe's part in the win should be remembered. Edgar believes he didn't get the kudos he deserved in what's become known as Hadlee's Match.

Snedden demurred.

"To be honest, Hadlee's performance was so special, so out of the box, that no one else could compete with that. That's just the way it is."

A Snedden anecdote to finish.

Crowe and he shared a love of listening to radio commentaries from Australia in the 1970s, and mimicking the men behind the microphone, who brought the cricket vividly to life.

"Those shortwave commentaries were so much part of our summer, in our minds. Australia was the pinnacle of cricket. So coming to the Gabba, for him to go out there in a test and dominate them, I know how important that was to him.

"There was a link growing up with those commentaries and I think there was real satisfaction for him in scoring that 188."

- NZ Herald

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