David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Fleming: Special tribute for Crowe at golf event

Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming is looking forward to sharing fond memories and stories of Martin Crowe at a special tribute for the legendary cricketer at the New Zealand Golf Open in Queenstown on Friday.

Crowe died last Thursday following a long struggle with Lymphoma and a service will be held in Auckland on Friday.

Fleming and recently retired national captain Brendon McCullum are among a group of former international cricketers that will miss the service due to their participation in the Celebrity Challenge golf event.

Fleming says the group - which also includes former New Zealand teammates Simon Doull and Mark Richardson, and former international rivals Sir Ian Botham, Allan Border, and Ricky Ponting - has a special opportunity to pay their respects to Crowe whilst also fulfilling their golfing commitments.

"We've got a unique opportunity with the group of cricketers that are down here, that whilst we can't be in Auckland on the day, we really want to pay our respects to Martin and the family, and we're just going to share some stories," said Fleming.

"We're going to hopefully be able to recount some of the great stories that we had with Martin both on and off the field."

Fleming acknowledged the group's decision not to attend the Auckland service has attracted some criticism, but insists Queenstown is a fitting location from which to pay tribute to Crowe.

"I know there's been some criticism about that, but from a personal point of view, it's probably one of the more fitting places to do it," he said.

"Queenstown was a popular spot, I spent some great times here with Martin. So in some ways it's fitting to remember those times and some good cricket stories as well.

"Obviously (he was) one of our greatest cricketers and one of the great cricketers to play the game.

"We saw his passion in his last few years with the way he wrote and his fondness for the game was pretty much second to none.

"So we'll try and reflect our feelings on Friday."

Fleming admitted some of the debate and judgmental reaction over their decision was hard to accept and explained different people deal with grief in different ways.

Whilst he had given the matter great consideration, he remains confident they will be able to pay their respects in a fitting and appropriate manner.

"It's people's opinion," he said. "Certainly, one article wasn't great journalism, but it's an emotional time and there's no right or wrong.

"And people grieve in different ways, and to have that pushed on you was probably a little bit hard to accept.

"But it's not about that. It's certainly about remembering one of our great people, and Martin was that.

"I've certainly thought long and hard about what can be done for Martin, and travelling to Auckland and be part of that, but also be part of this group here, who really want to show their respects.

"It certainly doesn't lessen the feeling of losing one of our great New Zealanders and certainly one of our great cricketers."

- NZ Herald

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