AUCKLAND, March 11: Cricketing greats honoured Martin Crowe at an emotional funeral for New Zealand�s greatest batsman today, 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.
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.
Former team-mates 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.
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 team-mates to repeatedly watch films featuring his Oscar-winning cousin. � AFP