Martin Crowe — one of a kind

Martin Crowe’s mails to this reporter touched upon his chemotherapy among other things.

Martin Crowe... a fighter to the end.   -  Getty Images

For three years while fighting bravely against cancer, Martin Crowe found some solace in writing about the game and dissecting cricketers’ technique after watching them on television.

A simple line that he had mailed this reporter after Sachin Tendulkar had played his 200th Test against the West Indies in Mumbai read: “As written, there are some who easily flow thru life. Sachin is one. A special family, no doubt.”

Martin had shared his thoughts on Tendulkar to a website, and his response was to a direct question on what he thought of a cricketer, who has played for 25 years with pressure from millions of Indians.

Another set of mails from the champion batsman before and after the 2013 IPL touched upon his chemotherapy treatment and John Wright. He began: “Vishy, so good of you to keep in touch. Say hi to Wrighty, wish him well. I’m just past halfway in chemo and battling thru, but feel ok and on the road to good health. All the best, my friend.”

His mail after the 2013 IPL said: “Finally thru chemo, a long vigil. Haven’t watched any IPL, couldn’t care less frankly. Pleased for Wrighty, but prefer him to be at Leeds helping our batsmen. Thanks for checking in... .”

Subsequently, Wright did work with New Zealand Cricket’s high performance programme.

It’s almost 24 years since Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the 1992 World Cup where Martin was in roaring form, playing the front-foot hook that Sunil Gavaskar once said only the Kiwi and Vivian Richards could play with aplomb. On the slow wickets of New Zealand, with the notable exception of Lancaster Park in Christchurch, Martin turned out to be the master. He scored a superb 100 not out against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland.

After the post-match press conference following the second match against Sri Lanka at Seddon Park, Hamilton, Martin promised an interview to The Hindu and Sportstar. “After the team practice at Eden Park (on the eve of the match against South Africa), I will find you,” he said. And sure enough, he did. Martin walked towards me with his pads and helmet in place and the bat and gloves in one hand. “Join me there (pointing to a first floor terrace with roof) in five minutes,” he said.

Martin was very prompt. He came with two cans of Coke and as many glasses, filled up the glasses to the brim and shot, “Let’s start.”

However, it’s the following mail that would have made any of his friends sad.

Vishy!

Great to hear from you. Yes, tough times, but it will end up as a precious gift; new awareness and clarity of life. I needed it, obviously. But chemo is brutal, you have to surrender to it and have faith. It also is so draining it makes you stop, take stock, buy time and restore. I have become a writer, I love it, look out for the book in 2-3 months. Thanks again, you always had a friendly smile.

Oh, I truly hope Sachin scores another ton soon against Australia, and retires on 200 Tests. His footwork (the back foot is rooted to the spot) has lost its zip. But what an epic person and player.

Take care.

Marty