Most of our blogs are inspired by the Museum archive or focused on stories from New Zealand’s vast cricket history. This post, from January 2015, is a little different as the NZ Cricket Museum Director, Jamie Bell, pens an open letter to Martin Crowe in response to his honesty about his health and career.
I’ll start this letter near the end of my story because history often needs context to make us realise how important some moments are.
I was at the Basin Reserve when Brendon McCullum scored 302 and, when the cheering had died down, and his helmet was back in place, it was you I thought of. His knock finally provided the context that your innings, 23 years before, needed. Now the 299 could be regarded for what it was instead of what it was not. It was a proud New Zealander fighting for every run for his country, batting with his mate, hitting more runs in an innings for New Zealand than anyone ever had. The last ball of that innings was also my earliest memory as a cricket fan. My reaction was probably the same as thousands of kids around the country: out in the backyard I threw the tennis ball against the wall and then nudged it though gully for the 300th run. I must’ve scored that run for you 300 times that summer.
Then, the very next year, I watched you from the other end of the country as your hundred sunk Australia in a game we were never meant to win, in a tournament we had no chance in. I was already hooked on cricket, but those summers, those moments, showed me how powerful the game could be.
You recently wrote a blog about your role models in cricket, the men who made you. The story of wearing a bandana in honour of Bert Sutcliffe, and that famous bandaged shot of him, resonated with me – my two cricket heroes, connected. It also reminded me that sportspeople inspire and influence in different ways. As a kid, you and Bert were my heroes and I wanted to play like you, achieve like you did. The reality of adulthood has only sharpened that inspiration but, instead of playing like you, I can tell your stories and honour the legacy of all who’ve played the game.
But I don’t write this from my role at the New Zealand Cricket Museum. Instead I write it from an 8-year-old whose hat you signed one summer on the grassy bank of Molyneux Park. That 8-year-old wanted to play for New Zealand because of the way you played for New Zealand but he’d be just as happy he ended up being able to tell your stories. So, with this letter he says “thank you, Martin”.