Many cricketers have second comings.

Times when they might be down and out, when they are written off, when averages and strike rates begin to inch away from TV screens and into history books. All before they come roaring back, berating you for counting them out, or, far worse, forgetting about them.

Sachin Tendulkar managed it after his long lay-off for a tennis elbow. Imran Khan came out of retirement when he could barely bowl anymore and led his nation to a World Cup. But who, like Martin David Crowe, has had second comings as an extraordinary human being?

READ MORE: Full house expected to pay respects to Martin Crowe


For Martin, who passed away last week to an illness that had chipped away at him for over three years will perhaps, just perhaps, be remembered for the way he lived out his last few years as much as for his glittering career.

His ability to make peace with all that had come before, accept his mistakes while forgiving others', and inspire and educate cricket players, fans and writers endeared his name to a generation like mine who never watched him play live, who aren't quite able to miss his cover drives as much as his cover stories.

This is a former cricketer, before my time, someone for whom I'm supposed to have respect, not feeling, so why am I writing with a constant lump in my throat?

The 53-year-old cricketing legend's death was a shock to many, despite his lengthy illness.

Part of Martin's appeal, I feel certain, comes from the inescapable feeling that he never quite achieved the things he really wanted most.

He always had to settle for a little bit less. He never did get that triple century, he wasn't able to lead what was a strong Black Caps team all the way to the '92 World Cup title, he never (and this, I think, is what in time will hurt the most) gained the veneration and unconditional respect in New Zealand cricketing circles except in his last years, and, in possibly the last match he ever watched, didn't witness a Black Caps side created unmistakeably in his image finally win that elusive World Cup.

Finally, oh-so-cruelly, when all had fit into place and fences been mended, he was never afforded the length in years to enjoy his new-found bliss.

This running theme of unfulfilment and disquiet that one always had with Martin makes him easier to relate to for us mere mortals than, say, someone like Viv Richards. Yet Martin just got on with it, soldiered on in that distinctive "searching for a five-dollar bill on the ground" gait of his. His two imposters may have been identical twins for how similarly he was able to treat them by the end.

And then there was his selfless devotion. The grace with which he drew vicarious pleasure from the achievements of McCullum-led New Zealand. His hauntingly sincere thank-you note to Brendon McCullum himself after the latter finally overtook Crowe's iconic 299 to become the nation's first triple centurion. That gratitude, by the way, towards someone who had, less than a year previously, responded to Crowe's criticism of the shambles New Zealand cricket found itself in by saying, "We stopped listening to Crowe ages ago." That feud was settled quickly enough, but that was what Martin post-2012 was like. The man great enough to rival the batsman.

His moving sincerity to the careers of Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, "the sons I never had", effectively made him an invaluable, if unpaid, Black Caps batting coach; it isn't a coincidence that despite the upheaval New Zealand cricket has undergone in the last decade or so, Guptill and Taylor remain near-constants. They have, after all, been tapping into the brightest of minds, and there is some fulfilment, at least, in knowing Martin got to see that 237 and that 290 in the time he had left. Among a plethora of other things, he'd succeeded at being a father figure.

What shone through most of all, though, was Martin's astonishing, infinite ability to love the game of cricket - its watching, analysing, improving, and revolutionising. His passion for the sport ran so deep and intense he was forced to take a break from it time and again, not unlike an addict would from a fix. This last attribute was the only one I could ever hope to rival him for, and prompted me, nearly a year ago to the day, to pen to him the only fan letter of my life. Published in this very paper, it received an overwhelming amount of feedback, and the generosity and appreciation I was showered with showed to me that Martin's tiny country housed people with hearts that were anything but. What was more, it reaffirmed that no New Zealand cricket fan was under any doubt that as far as Martin went, they had much to be grateful for.

Many who mourn his passing would have been fortunate enough to see him play in the flesh. I never did, and I obviously never will now. But those who did never seem to forget him and in that, at least, I am their equal.