A powerful, technically masterful batsman, Martin Crowe is considered by many to be the greatest batsman New Zealand has produced.
Crowe was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, though it is hoped he will make a full recovery. If he does, it won't be the first time he's overcome adversity to achieve something big. Here are five of Martin Crowe's best international innings.
Martin Crowe was in the form of his life at the 1992 World Cup, which New Zealand co-hosted with Australia. As NZ captain, he scored 456 runs at an average of 114, many more than any other player, and introduced innovative batting and bowling tactics. Crowe was named Player of the Tournament for his influence throughout.
Several Crowe innings from the '92 World Cup rank among his very best, but the pick of the bunch was 81 not out against West Indies. Indeed, Crowe himself has named it the innings of his life. It came at a run a ball against a top-class attack - both Curtly Ambrose and Malcolm Marshall were among West Indies' bowlers that day - and came in front of an adoring home crowd at Auckland's Eden Park. It also spurred New Zealand towards the semi-finals of a tournament they dominated but somehow failed to win.
Those 81 runs showcased the best of Martin Crowe. The still head and 'watch the ball' mantra, repeated over and over; the scything pull shot; the sweetly timed straight drive. Cricket fans the world over still talk in hushed tones about Crowe's 1992 World Cup performance, and his control over the West Indies bowlers that day demonstrates why. (See video)
This match is most remembered for Sir Richard Hadlee's 15 wickets (including 9/52 in Australia's first innings) but it also included an outstanding 188 by Martin Crowe. After Hadlee ran through the Australians, Crowe and John F. Reid set about compiling a massive lead for New Zealand.
Still only 23 years old, Crowe hit 26 fours on the way to what was then his highest test score. Alongside Hadlee's spectacular bowling performance, it set up a rare overseas Test win for NZ, their first in Australia. A month later, they'd won an overseas series for the first time. Crowe's innings was therefore a meaningful team contribution as well as a fine individual effort. (See video)
England fast bowler Angus Fraser described Crowe's 142 in 1994 as the best technical innings he had seen. "In terms of the way the innings was constructed, that was pretty much perfect. Every ball was played on its merits, by a player completely in control of his game."
The word 'control' often comes up wherever Martin Crowe is discussed. Whether he was in world-beating form - as he was against the West Indies in 1992 - or in the middle of a bad run, Martin Crowe exuded confidence and focus. By 1994, a series of knee and hamstring injuries meant he was beginning to lose control over his body. Instead, he batted with mental strength as his key weapon.
The 142 against England was the epitome of that. It's a great example of how to build a long innings within one's limitations. It also shows how cleanly Crowe could hit a cricket ball, almost at will. (See video)
After Aravinda de Silva's glorious 267 gave Sri Lanka a huge lead, New Zealand had to bat out over two days to save the match. Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones achieved that task, in the process putting together a then-world-record 467-run partnership.
Not satisfied with that, Crowe went on to post what is still the highest score by a New Zealand batsman in Test cricket. The pitch wasn't at all challenging, and the bowling relatively toothless, but Crowe's feat has remained at the top of NZ's record books since. After he was dismissed one short of a triple century, Crowe apparently commented: "It's a bit like climbing Everest and pulling a hamstring in the last stride." (See video)
Martin Crowe's last international century wasn't in the controlled-demolition style of his past - India dropped him three times - but it gave New Zealand a comprehensive win on the subcontinent, something NZ has rarely achieved to this day. Crowe dominated NZ's chase of 236 on the way to his highest one day international score.
At the end of the series, in November 1995, Crowe retired from international cricket aged just 33. It was premature for a player of his talent to have to go so early, and his absence in the New Zealand batting line-up left a chasm that has never really been filled. Unfortunately, Crowe's body just wasn't up to it any more.
It's a good thing he was able to go out on a high note, topping the run-scoring charts in the series.