In pics: Family, teammates pay tributes at Martin Crowe’s funeral

  • AFP, Auckland
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2016 15:53 IST
Martin Crowe was laid to rest at a service in Auckland on Friday. (AP Photo)

Cricketing greats honoured Martin Crowe at an emotional funeral for New Zealand’s greatest batsman on Friday, with his cousin, Hollywood star Russell Crowe, acting as a pallbearer.

About 1,000 mourners packed Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral to remember Crowe, who died on March 4 aged 53 after a long battle with cancer.

A guard of honour for the hearse is formed outside the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland. (AFP Photo)

The batsman’s brother Jeff, himself a former Black Caps captain, said the family had been touched by the outpouring of grief from across the cricketing world.

He was in Bangladesh on umpiring duties when Martin died and said there were heartfelt tributes from many involved in the game, including “a new Indian cricket generation”.

“It had never really dawned on me... what a huge splash he made, what a true inspiration he was,” Crowe senior told the service.

“Wasim Akram reminded me just the other day that Martin was the greatest batsman he ever bowled to -- no higher praise than that,” he added.

Jeff Crowe, who was on refereeing duties at the Asia Cup in Bangladesh when Martin Crowe passed, was touched by the number of lives Martin had touched. (AFP Photo)

Former teammates shared memories of a player who averaged 45.36 despite being plagued by injury in his 77-Test career, hitting 17 centuries -- still a New Zealand record.

Ex-Black Caps wicketkeeper Ian Smith read out a message from Australian great Allan Border, Crowe’s fierce rival who became a close friend.

“Cricket has lost one of its iconic players. He will be fondly remembered, greatly missed but never forgotten, a true champion,” Border said.

‘My champion, my hero’

Martin and cousin Russell Crowe (C) enjoyed some good back-and-forth banter about the state of their careers. (AFP Photo)

Smith said Crowe’s cricketing brain was unsurpassed, describing him as years ahead of his time in devising a shortened form of the game that paved the way for Twenty20.

He also shared lighter memories, such as Crowe imitating opponents’ techniques during rain delays in the dressing room and forcing teammates to repeatedly watch films featuring his Oscar-winning cousin.

“(Martin) was in ‘Gladiator’ as an extra, he was a senator -- well he was never going to be a footsoldier was he?” Smith quipped, referring to the Russell Crowe blockbuster.

The actor’s presence at the service had been in doubt due to prior commitments, but he made the trip to New Zealand with his children.

Russell Crowe (R) and his children arrive for the service. (AFP Photo)

He did not address the service but after Crowe’s death tweeted: “My champion, my hero, my friend. I will love you forever.”

He helped carry a casket bearing a giant inlaid silver fern to a hearse outside the cathedral. as students from Crowe’s former school Auckland Grammar performed a haka.

Pallbearers including actor Russell Crowe (centre R) carry Martin Crowe’s casket. (AFP Photo)

As the pallbearers carried the casket to the hearse, students from Crowe’s former school Auckland Grammar performed a haka.

Auckland Grammar school students perform a haka for Martin Crowe during his funeral. (AFP Photo)

Russell took to Twitter to express his appreciation for the boys’ haka.

Jeff said cousins Martin and Russell had shared a friendly rivalry as they both embarked upon stellar careers in their chosen fields.

“I do remember a wager they had on who would be the most famous,” he said. “Russ, today only, I think Martin might be in front.”

Smith said he saw Crowe in recent months “as things were shutting down” due to the cancer that was first diagnosed in October 2012 and then returned in September 2014.

“I won’t remember him that way,” he said.

“I’ll always see a great man at the crease. White helmet, silver fern on... playing the most perfect straight drive back past the bowler for four.”

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