Sunday, July 7, 2013

Excerpts from Indra Vikram Singh's book 'Don's Century' ..... 24 - Chapter 7 : PEERLESS RUNGETTER AND OTHER MASTERS OF THE WILLOW (29. Martin Crowe)

Perhaps the best batsman New Zealand produced is Martin Crowe. A classical strokeplayer, Crowe offered a straight bat and a still head, and his exquisite timing enabled him to caress the ball to the boundary. He was fluent and very easy on the eye. One rates him so high not just because he became the highest rungetter with the best average, and notched the most centuries and top score, for his country in the 77 Tests that he played. He logged up 5444 runs at an average of 45.36 with 17 hundreds and a highest score of 299 against Sri Lanka at Wellington in 1990-91. These are fine figures, particularly for a batsman from New Zealand where the ball darts around. But Crowe’s batting transcended these numbers.

Stephen Fleming scored many more runs later, though at a significantly lower average, but he was nowhere as elegant or dominant as Crowe, nor so reliable. Fleming did not have a left-hander’s inherent grace, and his shot-selection invariably left a lot to be desired as he often lost his wicket after playing far too many cameos. Crowe had a touch of class and rarely gave the impression of being troubled by the bowling.

In One-day Internationals he scored 4704 runs at an average of 38.55, and his finest hour in this form came in the 1992 World Cup at home when he was captain. He inspired his team to seven consecutive wins before losing in the last round-robin match, and then the semi-final as well, to Pakistan each time. With the bat he was in brilliant touch, beginning with a superb 100 not out as New Zealand upset holders Australia, and then played more unbeaten innings of 74, 81 and 73, before being run out for 91 in the semi-final. Crowe hit 456 runs at an average of 114, to win the player-of-the-tournament award. Knee injury curtailed his career, but Martin Crowe shall remain one of the most classy strokeplayers the game has seen.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

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