This article appeared in the Herald on January 18, 1986.

Eighteen months from now Martin Crowe will be a 24-year-old artist looking for the right kind of canvas on which to spread his rich cricketing colours.

When he spent a season in Somerset two years ago, he drew the warmest praise from cricketers and critics - so much so that Imran Khan described Crowe as the batsman of the 1980s.

It has taken Crowe longer to gain the same kind of recognition at home. New Zealanders are reluctant to bestow greatness upon their sportsmen and wait instead for the flaws with which they can grind the greats down to their own level.


Australians recognise talent more quickly and over the last few months they rather than New Zealand have seen Crowe mature from a promising youngster to close enough to a mature master.

His 188 of the first test against Australia at the Gabba was a classical innings of controlled power.

Over the last week, Crowe's 71 at Melbourne and 76 at the Gabba have been minor, but significant touches of one-day batting artistry.

The important thing now is that Crowe goes out to bat with the confident air that he expects to score runs, and lots of them.

He is, of the leading batsmen of the world, among the best starters. Even before he was undone with a spiteful off-cutter by David Gilbert at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday night Crowe, on a difficult pitch, had taken the ball plumb on the face of the bat.

Perhaps the perfect example of his combination of cricketing talent and athleticism came at the very fag end of the match when Greg Matthews came out to score the one run needed for victory.

Matthews caught a ball from Ewen Chatfield smack in the middle of the bat. It shot square on the leg side at blistering speed.

Yet Crowe at square leg and some 25 metres from the bat, causally plucked down the catch with two hands with absolute nonchalance - and he had the good humour to fake a quick look behind him as if the ball was still on its way to the pitch.


Now what of the future for Crowe? He is very much a young man with the cricket world at his feet, arguably among the four or five best batsmen playing the game these days.

Allan Border is mentioned in the same breath but Border is so agonisingly intense at the crease - with the weight of his country on his shoulders - that he looks more the artisan than the artist.

Yet Crowe seems not of the mood yet to storm the bastions of world cricket.

He does not, for example, see English county cricket as the purest form of the cricketing arts as did Glenn Turner and now perhaps Richard Hadlee.

Crowe has strong ties with Somerset, but he gives the impression that he is prepared to wait for Somerset to call him to their cause.

And, very much unlike Border, Crowe regards captaincy as an exciting dimension of his future cricket.

This year Somerset must say goodbye to their two fearsome West Indians, Viv Richards and Joel Garner. The door will be open to Crowe. He may enter, and might dash through the door if there is the promise of captaincy of a county.

During his time at Somerset, Crowe harnessed about him the young men on the verge of the county first team.

"When Richards and Garner go, perhaps these lads will come through and Somerset will start a new generation of cricketers," said Crowe yesterday. "I would like to be among them."

And you get the impression he would like it even more if he could be captain.

In New Zealand he will stay with Central Districts, for he relishes the captaincy of that side and regrets that his involvement with New Zealand limits his time with Central Districts.

At the moment, Crowe is, however, not all that fond of one-day captaincy, but that may come.

This year before the New Zealanders begin their tour of the second half of the English summer Crowe would like to spend about a month getting in touch with the Somerset seconds.

Perhaps next year and for the two of three years afterwards he would like to play for Somerset after Richards and Garner have left the overseas registration open.

Two or three years of the discipline and experience of county cricket might be just enough to turn Crowe into the master artist.

Imran Khan may have been a shade premature. Crowe will be a very good batsman of the 1980s. He could be THE batsman of the 1990s.