Thursday 29 September 2016

Russell Crowe is pallbearer at cricket star cousin's funeral

Published 11/03/2016 | 06:31

Russell Crowe helps carry the coffin of his cousin Martin (New Zealand Herald/AP)
Russell Crowe helps carry the coffin of his cousin Martin (New Zealand Herald/AP)

Actor Russell Crowe helped carry the coffin of his former New Zealand cricket captain cousin Martin Crowe, who died after a battle with cancer.

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The Gladiator star was not initially expected to attend the service at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral, having taken part in a memorial planned by Martin in the last days of his illness.

Eulogies were delivered by Martin Crowe's wife, former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, his brother Jeff and former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith.

Ms Downes described her husband as "authentic, loving and full of prayer", but said he could also be "intense, restless and complex".

The funeral included video messages from current New Zealand cricketers Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, who are in India for the World Twenty20 tournament.

In a Twitter post after the service, Russell Crowe said a haka, or war dance, performed by students from Crowe's former high school, Auckland Grammar, "shook the earth".

Former New Zealand captains Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming did not attend the funeral because they were playing in a charity event at the New Zealand Golf Open in Queenstown, where a separate commemoration was held.

Smith, who was a former team-mate of Crowe but became closer to him when both were involved in television commentary, said he had a passion for cricket.

"Sometimes it led him down the path of confrontation, but it occurred solely because his devotion ran so deep," Smith said. "It was in his heart, it flowed through his veins."

Crowe played 77 tests for New Zealand over 13 years, scoring more than 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36 with 17 centuries and a highest score of 299. He is regarded as New Zealand's finest test batsman, but often battled with the pressure of expectation.

He was first diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012 and was thought to have been cured by chemotherapy, but the disease returned in 2014.

In an autobiography he admitted he often struggled to cope with pressure created by his talent and described himself as the "record-holder for grievances".

But Ms Downes said her husband found peace in his battle with illness "and from that internal work he finally saw what we knew about him, that he was a gentle kind and loving soul".

Jeff Crowe said Martin and Russell were especially close as they grew up together in Auckland.

"Martin and Russell spent some special times together, especially many years ago when both were setting off on their amazing journeys," Jeff Crowe, also a former New Zealand cricket captain, said.

"I do remember a wager they had on who would be the most famous. Today only, Martin might be in front."

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