Dipak Patel talks to mid-day about his captain, who passed away yesterday
It's 4:30 pm in Papua New Guinea and former New Zealand off-spinner still can't believe the news he received earlier in the day — the death of his former captain Martin Crowe.
Crowe, who succumbed to cancer at 53 yesterday, was responsible for getting Patel into the history books by making him open the bowling in the 1992 World Cup. Patel admitted that memories of the new ball challenge, which started in the Cup opener against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, came rushing back as soon as he heard the news of Crowe's death. And Auckland it was where Patel met Crowe last — just before Christmas in 2015.
mid-day spoke to 57-year-old Patel on his and cricket's big loss.
So young, so special
It's hard to find words when you lose someone who is so close and special to you. Martin was so young to no longer be with us.
New Zealand's Dipak Patel (right) celebrates after claiming the wicket of Australia's captain Allan Border with teammate Chris Cairns during the 1992 World Cup match at Eden Park in Auckland. Pic/Getty Images
That new-ball task
I remember that task (to open the bowling in the 1992 World Cup) very well. It came back to me as soon as I got the news of his death. He instilled so much confidence in me when he came up to me in the team room and spoke to me as to why he wanted me to do it. He made me feel 10 feet tall. Martin certainly had the knack of getting the best out of his players. What he was able to achieve with a pretty average team at the time and make it into a great team will always stick with me.
It was a case of bringing something different into the tactics to catch teams by surprise. As he mentioned to me, the reason why he did that was because he felt I was good enough to do something different. He wanted to use me as an attacking bowler and not a defensive one. He expected me to bowl like I did in Test cricket — take wickets and not worry about giving away runs. That (attacking ploy) stood out for me. He instilled in me that it was all about taking wickets and not being a defensive bowler.
Giving up? What's that?
I was in touch with Martin. I managed to catch up with him when I was back home (in New Zealand). It is very hard to believe that he is no longer with us. If you knew Martin personally and closely as we did, you knew he would fight for anybody, let alone himself. We expected him to get better and he was very positive that his health was improving but obviously, it (cancer) got the better of him. It was very rare for him to be beaten — whether he was playing or batting. He was one person to whom the words 'giving up' did not exist. He was a true fighter in every shape or form.
That last meeting
When I said to him that it was great to catch up and I would be speaking to him shortly, he agreed and said, 'it's very nice of you to keep in touch and more importantly, come over and say hello. Just keep in touch.'