As the Crowe flies

SPASIFIK publisher INNES LOGAN laments the passing of New Zealand cricket legend Martin Crowe and recalls the time he worked with him to promote Max Cricket, which would become the precursor to T20 today.


Martin Crowe credit: www.icc-cricket.com

 

Martin Crowe and I had a lot in common. He was a born and bred westie (West Aucklander). He loved cricket and rugby. And he was little more than a year older than me.
 

But there the similarities end.
 

He made his first class debut for Auckland as a 16-year-old still at school (Auckland Grammar), scoring a half century. I was still wallowing in the lower grades. At least the young Crowe’s achievements made me realise I was probably better at talking (and later writing) about the game than playing it.
 

When I made a belated comeback in the social grades, my wife-to-be Anne suggested me spending a whole day chasing a hard, red leather ball wasn’t the most fun way for her to spend half of the weekend. I retired in my mid-20s knowing the sport of cricket was no worse off.
 

I watched as Crowe set himself to become New Zealand’s greatest ever batsman. A test average of over 45 and 17 centuries don’t do justice to a player who had to overcome a number of chronic injuries and illnesses throughout. Nor do the stats do justice to the grace and style of his batting. He appeared to see the ball earlier than others (he had time), which was particularly obvious during the drawn home series against the fearsome and then unbeatable West Indies in 1987.

Crowe was at his peak that year before injuries began to take its toll.
 

In 1998, little more than a decade later, as I began my career as a freelance journalist, I had the privilege of working with Crowe in promoting Cricket Max for Sky TV.
 

SPASIFIK publisher Innes Logan with Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor, for whom Martin Crowe was a staunch ally for at Adelaide Airport in November before flying home following the third test in the series against Australia in Australia.

 

Injury had forced him into retirement from international cricket three years earlier, but as Sky Sport cricket director, Crowe was able to promote the concept of an even shorter game than one day matches.
 

He was more than a great cricketer, he was an innovator on and off the field. Cricket Max lasted for a decade before the Twenty20 (T20) format became adopted by the ICC, which incorporated a number of Max innovations to the shortened format.
 

The few weeks I worked alongside Martin Crowe revealed a man of intelligence, innovation and intensity. As a player he strived for perfection and it was no different off the field. He put his heart and soul striving to make the game he invented to be the adopted form world-wide.
 

In 2003 he courted controversy by suggesting Maori wouldn’t make great cricketers because they “lacked concentration”. But when Samoan Ross Taylor had the test captaincy stripped from him in 2012, Crowe was his staunchest ally.
 

Taking such a stand ultimately cost Martin Crowe his job at Sky TV and TV cricket fans were deprived of his articulate and insightful commentaries during matches.
 

But in times such as these, it’s the loving friends and family he has left behind who will miss him the most.
 

S.N-16