Auckland: New Zealand great Martin Crowe has vowed not even life-threatening cancer will stop him from being among an expected capacity crowd at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday to watch the Black Caps face Australia in an eagerly-anticipated World Cup clash.
The 52-year-old master batsman, terminally ill with a rare blood disease called double-hit lymphoma, said he wouldn't want to miss the Pool A clash between the two
tournament co-hosts and title contenders, for anything. "For me, it will be the only (World Cup) game I get to, and it's almost like a bookend to my cricketing life, to be there on Saturday and watch these boys," Crowe told the Dominion Post.
Crowe, who played 77 Tests and 143 one-day internationals, hit a match-winning century to help New Zealand beat Australia at the same venue on their way to a semi-final finish in the 1992 World Cup. Crowe, one of the finest batsmen of his generation, said the current crop of New Zealand players were doing him proud.
"I am incredibly proud of New Zealand cricket and the way Brendon (McCullum) and his team have really taken up this challenge over the last year. I am just overwhelmed at the way they're playing a fearless game." Crowe hoped the round robin game, which should decide who tops Pool A and plays a relatively weaker opponent in the last
eight, would be a cracking affair.
"It's going to be an incredible battle. You're not going to see fielding sides like these two probably ever in the history of the game." Crowe envisaged a packed stadium and colourful atmosphere. "There will be 45,000 people there. The last time there was 45,000 people there (for a one-day match) was my first one-day international," said Crowe of his debut against Australia in 1982.
"The crowd was spilling all over the ropes. "(New Zealand's) Jeremy Coney put up a hell of an act, (Australia's) Greg Chappell got the best hundred you'll ever see. It was a day I'll never forget." Crowe gave a rare public appearance on Wednesday when he featured in a friendly Twenty20 match near Te Awanga beach, close to Napier -- filling in after the late withdrawal of his England contemporary Ian Botham.