A couple of weeks ago I wrote about one of my closest friends who was celebrating his 50th birthday, Martin Crowe. Today I am writing to offer him, his wife Lorraine and the rest of their family my love as they face first the shock, and then the challenge of cancer, in this case lymphoma.
The internet and social networking are such a double-edged sword and sometimes it’s easy to get bogged-down in the anonymous negativity. But at times like these, I hope Marty has had a chance to scroll through the news sites from New Zealand, Australia, India, the UK and indeed around the world and read not just the official articles about his health, but the dozens of anonymous comments below.
People who’ve never met Martin Crowe are talking about the most graceful batsman they’d ever watched; that he was the reason they’d started playing cricket; that he was once upon a time the best batsman in the world. These people are even recalling particular shots that Marty played. That’s not to say, “I remember he had a great cover drive.” More-so, “I’ll never forget that drive down on one-knee off Bruce Reid at Eden Park against Australia in 1992.” Incredible.
The one slightly less than positive comment I read was from someone who said something along the lines of, “Geez, he’s not dead yet! Why’s everyone acting like he is?” The first part of my response is, just as my mother survived and thrived through cancer, so can my friend.
And the second part of the response is to ask why do we have to wait until those dearest to us are gone before we tell them what they really meant to us? There might as well be a pro or two amongst those damn cons when you are personally confronted with something like cancer and friends and strangers singing your praises is a definite pro.
These last few years it has been a privilege to call Marty and Lorraine friends. Fan-ship is built on feats and fame, but friendship is not. These are two kind, funny, generous people who mean a great deal to me, not to mention all the laughs, all the dinners, all the cricket net-sessions and all the tennis. Speaking of which, I possibly over-enthusiastically rate myself a pretty decent tennis player, complete with offensive board-shorts, aviator sunglasses and sweatbands. In probably 40 or 50 matches against a rival 19 years my senior, I’ve only beaten him once and taken a grand total of three sets off him. And I still call it a rivalry! One which I know will continue.
The clip below is from the very first international game of cricket I ever went to and it also happens to be the ODI knock Marty regards as his finest. Get well buddy.