11 Mar 2016

Martin Crowe farewelled in Auckland

6:08 pm on 11 March 2016

The country's greatest batsman, Martin Crowe, has been farwelled at a warm and colourful ceremony at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Crowe died last week, aged 53, from lymphoma and had helped plan his funeral in detail.

New Zealand cricketers from many different eras were among hundreds who paid their respects to the man many of them knew as Hogan.

And Crowe's famous Hollywood cousin, Russell, made an unexpected appearance.

Mourners heard tales of one of the most gifted sportsmen the country has seen - but also of a warm and loving father, a thoughtful mentor and a mischievous prankster.

Jeff Crowe said his passionate brother was often misunderstood but was clever and insightful.

He spoke of the ultra competitive streak between them that sometimes extended to their famous cousin.

"Many years ago when both were setting off on their amazing journeys, I do recall a wager as to who would be the most famous. Today only, Russ, Marty might be just in front."

Martin Crowe's body lay in a bright orange casket - a favourite colour.

He had designed it himself and it was adorned with daughter, Emma's, birth date, his wedding date, a silver fern, a butterfly and the sun.

Jeff Crowe (centre) welcomes mourners to the funeral of his brother Martin.

Jeff Crowe (centre) welcomes mourners to the funeral of his brother Martin. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

His wife, Lorraine Downes, said the world knew him as a famous cricketer but she knew him as her soulmate.

She said he had more clothes than her and she loved his cheeky sense of humour.

"We had a party for two most days, we never tired of one another... what we had was very precious and I will be forever grateful."

Ian Smith, his former team mate, touring room mate and later colleague at Sky Sports talked about the passionate sporting hero.

"Children wanted to be him. Adults wanted to see him."

He said he would not remember him as the man battling cancer.

"All I'll see is a man at the crease ....white helmet, silver fern on badge, headband trailing out the back of it, long sleeve shirt - all uniform and gear in pristine condition.

"And then I'll see him playing the most perfect straight drive - back past the bowler, always along the ground, down to the boundary for four. Cricket doesn't get much more beautiful."

Black Cap's Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor are in India and sent a video tribute.

Taylor described how he became dear friends with the man who started to mentor him after describing him as a "dirty slogger" at the crease.

He said Crowe, who gave him the nickname "too easy" was wickedly funny and could be brutally honest.

"In the words of Hogan himself, we should smile when stumps are drawn and be grateful for the day's cricket."

Russell and Jeff Crowe led the pallbearers as they took Crowe's casket through an Auckland Grammar school guard of honour, pausing for the school's kapa haka group to honour him.

In a final touch, mourners laid orange and yellow petals on the casket before it drove away, again, to the sound of the haka.

Martin Crowe has been a mentor to Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill.

Martin Crowe has been a mentor to Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill. Photo: AFP

Earlier this week legendary New Zealander allrounder Sir Richard Hadlee paid tribute to Crowe.

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