Martin Crowe's wife has expressed her eternal gratitude to a man she described as her soulmate and "a beautiful man" who saw fatherhood as one of his greatest achievements at his funeral in Auckland today.
Crowe's casket sat centre-stage inside Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell adorned with a large bouquet of white flowers and a monarch butterfly.
In a touching tribute to his daughter her birth date was etched on his casket - 15/4/2003 - a day he described in his 2013 book Raw as one where he was the happiest he'd ever been.
Downes gave her touching final tribute towards the end of the almost two-hour service.
"Right from the beginning I nicknamed Marty my beautiful man, his heart so pure and transparent so honest and so full of love," she said. "He could be passionate romantic and fun and he could be as cheeky as hell."
Crowe died last Thursday, aged 53, four years after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
Downes said while the cancer had taken her husband too soon - it had in some ways also given them time together.
"When the cancer arrived he did the courageous work of facing himself and from that internal work he finally saw what we knew about him, that he was a gentle kind and loving soul," she said.
"That peace made him able to touch the lives of others close to him for the better.
"I will be forever grateful to you my darling for what you shared with me, for truly showing me what living in the moment means and what being loved and cherished feels like."
The funeral began at 1pm with a standing ovation as a video of Crowe's innings of 142 against England at Lord's in 1994 was played.
The first to pay tribute was his brother Jeff Crowe who shared his memories of his "bold and beautiful brother" a fabulous, loving and caring father, a son of substance and a magnanimous mate.
He spoke of the strength of his sister-in-law and his niece in the face of their loss.
"Lorraine ... you were his rock ... Emma your dad was so proud of you, we are so proud of you, what you have achieved and what you are about to, keep smiling ... kia kaha.
"Marty may have left us but he is still within, you only have to look at Emma's eyes to know that he is looking back at you."
Former teammate Ian Smith recalled Crowe's younger years as "young superstar in the making" at Auckland Grammar.
"But his reputation was justified, he had a confidence, a presence backed up with a very clear superb technique even then."
He went on to detail Crowe's career highlights, including the special innings which for more than a decade stood as a record test score for New Zealand - the infamous 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991.
Smith used one word to sum up his friend: "Passion".
"Sometimes it led him down the path of confrontation, but it occurred solely because his devotion ran so deep, it was in his heart, it flowed through his veins."
Tearful video tributes from Black Caps Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor were also played at the funeral.
The pair described their gratitude at having Crowe as a mentor.
"I was incredibly proud that he called myself and Ross the sons he never had," Guptill said.
Hundreds attended the funeral from far and wide, including his cousin and actor Russell Crowe, former Australian captain Greg Chappell, New Zealand Cricket boss David White, selector Gavin Larsen, Sir Richard Hadlee and students from his former school, Auckland Grammar.
Sport Minister Jonathan Coleman attended on behalf of the Government.
His casket was carried out by his pallbearers, including his cousin Russell, to the tune of the Muse song Feeling Good.
It was greeted outside the church by a large group of Auckland Grammar boys performing the haka, before being put in the hearse as family and friends lay petals on top.
The students broke out into another haka as the hearse drove off with family, friends and hundreds of funeral attendees looking on.
Martin Crowe MBE
- September 22 1962 - March 3 2016
- ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
- New Zealand cricket legend
- 77 tests - 5444 runs at 45.36
- 143 one-day internationals - 4704 runs at 38.55
- 19,608 first-class runs at an incredible average of 56, including 71 centuries and 80 half-centuries