Taylor and Crowe: 'I told him he could always call me as a mate'

7:44 pm on 12 December 2017

As Ross Taylor sweetly drove Raymon Reifer to the Seddon Park fence, you just knew that wherever Martin Crowe was, he was smiling, writes Matt Richens.

Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor

The late Martin Crowe, left, mentored Ross Taylor, right. Photo: PhotoSport

It was the 770th boundary of Taylor's 10-year test cricket career, but it would have been the late Crowe's favourite.

Not only did it bring up Taylor's 17th test century and draw the 33-year-old level with Crowe's (and Kane Williamson's) New Zealand record of 17 test tons, but it portrayed everything Crowe wanted batting to be about and everything he hoped Taylor would become as a batsman.

Watch Ross Taylor's Checkpoint with John Campbell interview here:

It was along the ground and showed the full-face - great dad tips for a start.

Crowe would have liked that, but also how the Central Districts right-hander built his innings and just continues to score runs with ease.

As Crowe was in his pomp, Taylor is a man in control at the crease and only a rare lapse or a piece of brilliance from the opposition looks likely to get him out.

When Taylor first represented New Zealand his bat might as well have been a sledgehammer or a hockey stick.

His strengths were his eye, his timing and the ability to hit the ball very, very hard and often through mid-wicket.

That was never Crowe's way. Batting for Crowe was art. He was arrogant about it too, he was a hard-working classical batsman who respected the game and he wanted others to do the same.

His bat could have as easily been a painter's brush or a sculptor's tool.

And those are now weapons Taylor possesses. He still has the power - the type Crowe could only ever have dreamed of - but he picks his battles.

Instead of bludgeoning an attack, he chips away at them and before they know it - death by a thousand paper cuts.

Knowing that would make Crowe smile more than any slog-sweep ever could.

Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor pose for a picture at the 2013/14 New Zealand Cricket Annual Awards dinner.

Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor pose for a picture at the 2013/14 New Zealand Cricket Annual Awards dinner. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Taylor teared up while being interviewed by friend, former New Zealand keeper now commentator Ian Smith, yesterday and it's fair to assume Crowe would have too had he not passed away in March 2016.

I interviewed New Zealand's best batsman in June 2013 while he was battling follicular lymphoma. He was peddling his book Raw and said he'd rather not talk about cricket.

It was just after Taylor had been dumped as captain in favour of Brendon McCullum and Crowe was dirty and blamed his cancer on the stress of the situation.

But when we started talking about Taylor's batting, Crowe perked up.

While he'd been grumbly and short talking about New Zealand Cricket and showing signs of having had enough of a long-book tour, the topic of Taylor was like his double-shot espresso (he drank green tea).

He felt Taylor was close to turning a corner and "got" batting. Their mentor-protege relationship had succeeded.

Revitalised himself, Crowe was now sitting on the edge of his seat pointing out how Taylor was now a more balanced player with the ability to score all around the wicket without slowing down.

I couldn't get a word in. He shadow-batted Taylor's strengths. And smiled.

Crowe stopped short of patting himself on the back and though it was implied some of the credit should be aimed his way, he heaped praise on Taylor for all the hard work the man himself had done on the field, in the nets and in his own mind.

Their working relationship officially ended before Crowe got sick, he said.

"He has the grasp, he's a very good batsman, but I told him he could always call me as a mate."

The pair reportedly stayed in touch and talked about their love of cricket and red wine.

I'd like to think as Taylor was raising a glass of something special in Hamilton last night, his mate 'Hogan' was doing the same right back at him.

Taylor's tons

120 v England, Hamilton 2008

154* v England, Manchester 2008

151 v India, Napier 2009

107 v India, Wellington 2009

138 v Australia, Hamilton 2010

122* v Zimbabwe, Napier 2012

113 v India, Bengaluru 2012

142 v Sri Lanka, Colombo 2012

217* v West Indies, Dunedin 2013

129 v West Indies, Wellington 2013

131 v West Indies, Hamilton 2013

104 v Pakistan, Dubai 2014

290 v Australia, Perth, 2015

173* v Zimbabwe, Bulawayo 2016

124* v Zimbabwe. Bulawayo 2016

102* v Pakistan, Hamilton 2016

107* v West Indies, Hamilton 2017

Crowe's centuries

100 v England, Wellington 1984

188 v West Indies, Georgetown 1985

188 v Australia, Brisbane 1985

137 v Australia, Christchurch 1986

106 v England, Lord's 1986

119 v West Indies, Wellington 1987

104 v West Indies, Auckland 1987

137 v Australia, Adelaide 1987

143 v England, Wellington 1988

174 v Pakistan, Wellington 1989

113 v India, Auckland 1990

108* v Pakistan, Lahore 1990

299 v Sri Lanka, Wellington 1991

140 v Zimbabwe, Harare 1992

107 v Sri Lanka, Colombo 1992

142 v England, Lord's 1994

115 v England, Manchester 1994

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