In June 2015, former NZ wicketkeeper-turned-commentator Ian Smith received a text message from cancer-afflicted Martin Crowe, asking him to deliver his eulogy. Here's what Smith said yesterday at Crowe's funeral in Auckland
Let me begin today by saying a massive thank you for your attendance. During his playing years, Martin Crowe absolutely loved the big stage. (Smith gets emotional). He loved the big crowd. He relished it and he would be mighty impressed with the view from up here.
On June 17 last year I received a text message in the commentary box at Trent Bridge in Nottingham from Hogan (Crowe's nickname). Not unusual. I received many over the years with various opinions — some very strong, some very candid. New Zealand were getting beaten!
I expected a very strong one. It simply said, 'Hey Stockley, I want you to do my eulogy'. The game out the window suddenly mattered not, as realisation struck home that this great man, this great mate, was possibly very quickly going to leave us. I consulted great friends Ian Botham and Mark Nicholas and together we prepared for the worst and we prepared very quickly. We should have known better of course that he would fight.
He always fought and fight he certainly did. It's not the trepidation of having to stand here and do this (eulogy) that hits me hard today, because it is a great honour. It's a realisation of right now that it's time to say goodbye to Martin Crowe, to Hogan, one of our greats.
One word sums up Martin Crowe for me in all that he did: Passion. He cared deeply about everything he attempted. I spoke with Hogan not that long ago and I got the feeling that he had made peace with the game and all those around it. This is terrific because he gave so much to it.
You will all have your special memories of Martin Crowe, of Hogan. I saw him a couple of times in the last few months. Things were shutting down. I won't remember him that way.
I'll always see a man at the crease, a great man, white helmet, silver fern on badge, headband trailing at the back, long-sleeved shirt, all uniform and gear in pristine condition. And then, I will be see him play the perfect straight drive back past the bowler, always along the ground, down to the boundary for four. Cricket… it doesn't get more beautiful.
On the back cover of his autobiography, Hogan penned these words. 'I only ever wanted to represent my nation. To wear the silver fern, that's what fulfils me.' I hope it did, great friend. Your nation salutes you. Rest in peace… please rest in peace.