Martin Crowe v Ross Taylor v Kane Williamson. At 17-all in the test century department, it's time to do the best player test.

Who would you pick to save a game? Williamson.

Who would you pick to save THE game? Crowe.

The just-completed test series against the West Indies said it all, and it's not entirely the New Zealand players' fault because the most interesting West Indian on tour is TV commentator Ian Bishop.


Ex-Black Cap Scott Styris initiated a fascinating conversation during the Hamilton test drudgery. He asked Bishop — a really quick bowler with a dodgy back during the 1990s — if more recent generations of West Indian new-ball bowlers had been hampered, trying to emulate the frightening Windies' greats rather than being themselves. Bishop thought it was an excellent question.

But nothing could save this test series, not even an emphatic New Zealand victory.

It was the most boring contest in the history of mankind (excuse the gross exaggeration, but a dire experience is still fresh in the mind).

Who wants to be the old guy, pining for the old days? But I can tell you this — New Zealand cricket was better when men like Richard Hadlee, Crowe, Chris Cairns and many others were prowling around. Right now, the game is average to very average in the charisma department.

Don't let averages fool you.

Crowe saw in Williamson the dawning of New Zealand's finest batsman and said so about a year before his sad passing, in March of 2016.

Read more: Ross Taylor, Martin Crowe or Kane Williamson - who is New Zealand's greatest test batsman?

Yet no one matches what Martin Crowe brought to our cricket, or a Kiwi's overall influence on world cricket.


A test average of 45 does Crowe a disservice. He was elegant all around the wicket, precise, brave. Crowe is where technique met art, the way it did in its finest form with Australian Greg Chappell, a man who made the sweep shot look like a curtsy.

Injury, rubbish openers, dodgier New Zealand conditions. I'll make any excuse for that average because in quality, Crowe was a 55 man all the way. Numbers do actually lie.

Crowe was like a flamboyant politician...pied piper, talisman, leader, innovator, polariser, connected, newsmaker, emotional.

Post playing, his columns were exceptional. He was a fabulous commentator who could analyse like no other, almost pleading at times for others to keep up.

Read more: Ross Taylor equals New Zealand record for test centuries

I interviewed him once, his playing days long gone, and his antipathy towards former team mate John Bracewell wouldn't leave him alone. He wasn't always popular or deserved to be, but he was real.

Kane Williamson - technician. Photo / Alan Gibson
Kane Williamson - technician. Photo / Alan Gibson

In comparison, the world class Taylor and Williamson are efficient bureaucrats. Their columns of numbers are magnificent, but they won't write revealing columns.

This is definitely not to bag them, because their exploits are exceptional. Their behaviour is exemplary, maybe too exemplary.

But as a fellow media person said on the subject of sports coverage during the Hamilton game: "No wonder speedway gets p!@#$% off."

We fawn over cricket, which gives bugger all back in constant entertainment. The ICC treats New Zealand as second rate, while a handful of people sit at test matches and take it.

In the centre of this latest muck were two of New Zealand's greatest batsmen, not that you would know it.

Williamson — average 50 — can be nigh on faultless, the quiet assassin while a sport dies quietly. Williamson can leave you cold, even when he's hot. Williamson pushes the score along, whereas Crowe lifted cricket up.

There is a strange disconnect between Taylor — average 48 — and the public. It is not totally explainable, but for a man with so many achievements he operates in the shade. I love Taylor, yet don't feel anything about him at all. It's kind of weird.

It has to be said he struggles for stature. New Zealand Cricket treated Taylor abominably — especially considering the captaincy insult — by refusing his request to play a T20 game in Australia. They wouldn't have dared do that to Crowe.

Results will never be the driving force in our cricket. The game needs personality. At the moment, it has the bare minimum, if that. The players have half a mind on the money available around the globe. They rest and rotate, bless them.

I was devastated when Crowe died. Memories flooded back. They still do.

He was an absolute hero, a magical gift from my era, my city, my schooldays. He rose from that cricket nest scooped out of beautiful Cornwall Park, and towards what became the very end he wanted to go back there, to play one more summer near the plaque commemorating his dad.

Crowe loved cricket so much, understood it in an overall sense so well, and he publicly anointed Williamson our future finest batsman. On that score, Martin Crowe was wrong.