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The Martin Crowe comeback at 49 that lasted just three balls

Crowe comeback
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

One of the finest batsmen of his era, Martin Crowe retired as New Zealand’s highest run-getter and century-maker in 1996 but made a hugely surprising comeback bid at 49, a forgettable affair in 2011 that lasted just three balls.

Despite an established career that extended for close to a decade and a half, Crowe’s international stint came to an unfortunate end due to a lingering right knee issue, with the joint hampered by considerable wear and tear. Then aged 33, Crowe played his last Test and ODI in November 1995.

After time spent commentating and writing about the game as well as a brief involvement in mentoring and team management (he was the chief cricket officer for IPL team RCB in 2008), Crowe decided to make a surprise comeback as a player in 2011, deciding, at 49, that he wanted to challenge himself.

While clarifying that he had no intentions of trying to reach international cricket, Crowe felt that his exit had been hastened by the knee injury, where he fell short of his personal target of 20 Test hundreds and 6,000 Test runs. “I am interested to see if a 48-year old can bat,” he told ESPNcricinfo at the time. “It’s probably unlikely. It’s probably only heard of at average club level. But that’s what we are going to check out.” The motivation also came through his former teammate Adam Parore, who was then preparing to scale Mt Everest, and Mark Richardson, the NZ opener who Crowe described as “about to do four marathons a year”.

With one eye probably on the landmark of 20,000 first-class runs, which he was then short of by 392 runs, Crowe returned to club cricket in Auckland, playing for Cornwall against Parnell. However, just three balls into his first innings, he pulled his thigh muscle while attempting a single, which proved to be the end of his comeback bid. “I said from the start it would end in tears with an injury,” he later said.

“I pulled a hip flexor in July, a hamstring in August, a groin in October and now a thigh, all upper left leg,” Crowe said, “all compensating for a dodgy arthritic right knee. No tears, but frustrated after a lot of hard work getting ready.”

While the comeback ended in disappointing fashion, it hardly took any sheen away from a highly-respected career of arguably New Zealand’s greatest Test batsman.

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