MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – New Zealand’s former cricket captain Martin Crowe, who is terminally ill with lymphoma, has penned a moving tribute to his countrymen ahead of today’s World Cup final against Australia.
In a heart-wrenching column published on Cricinfo, the 52-year-old said today’s match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground might be the last he ever sees.
“My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy,” Crowe wrote.
“So this is likely to be it. The last, maybe, and I can happily live with that.”
Crowe, who played 77 tests and 143 One-Day Internationals for New Zealand, was regarded as one of the world’s best batsmen during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma two years ago but it went into remission.
Late last year, however, a new, more aggressive form of the disease, double-hit lymphoma, developed and he said he had been told only five percent of sufferers survive more than 12 months.
Crowe said he had decided against chemotherapy and was instead trying natural treatments.
He was inducted into the international cricket Hall of Fame last month and is making the trip from New Zealand to watch the final live, cheering on the players he regards as the “sons I never had”.
“I will hold back tears all day long. I will gasp for air on occasions. I will feel like a nervous parent,” he wrote.
“Whatever happens, March 29 at the MCG will be the most divine fun ever.”
Current Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum told a news conference yesterday he had read Crowe’s column and he paid tribute to his ailing predecessor.
“I think what he’s going through at the moment is incredibly difficult. We had him involved in the group, and not long ago as well we came and spent time with the team and it was great,” McCullum said.
“He seems to have really found peace with himself and the game as well, and he’s been instrumental in helping some of our guys on the team peel back their games and really focus on being able to develop individually but also buy into the team collectively. He’s been a really big asset.