Wellington: New Zealand batting great Martin Crowe is considering a shock return to first-class cricket at the age of 48 - nearly 16 years after retiring from the Test arena.
What began as a tongue-in-cheek comment on Twitter has taken on a life of its own, with the Auckland Cricket Association (ACA) saying it would seriously consider Crowe, widely regarded as New Zealand's finest ever batsman.
Crowe tweeted on Thursday that he needed motivation to get fit and a comeback was one way to achieve the goal and attend to some unfinished business concerning his first-class career statistics.
"Call me mad, but just having an urge to put the pads on, done (sic) the headband, take guard & bat in a first class match. Would Akld (Auckland) consider it?" he said.
"Need a challenge to get fit at 48," he wrote on the micro-blogging service.
"Need 3 F/C (first class) games to reach 250," added Crowe, who is also nearing the milestone of 20,000 first-class runs.
"Me thinks it could be fun. You keen ACA?" he tweeted.
Auckland coach Paul Strang said Crowe's age did not rule out a return to fist-class cricket.
"If he is serious about jumping through the hoops required - from getting fit to club cricket and onwards - then there's no doubting he has the base talent," Strang told the New Zealand Herald.
He said Crowe's experience and talent were positives but added "the physical demands of modern cricket would be the hardest thing he would have to get used to".
After a distinguished 77-Test career, with an average of 45.36 and 17 centuries, Crowe retired in 1995 due to a string of chronic knee injuries.
Since then, he has worked as a cricket commentator, batting advisor to the Black Caps and coached Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008, while also carving out a career in television management.
Elaborating on his comeback plans, Crowe said he felt he had been "drifting along" physically and, with his knee fixed by an operation a few years ago, felt cricket was the best way to "get off my butt".
"When you get to my age, you need to do something, he told the cricinfo website. "Physically, I am a person who needs more than going to gym, I need to fire myself up.
"I don't like swimming, cycling, or lifting weights. I can't climb, I can't run - why not bat?"
Crowe said he had no aspiration to return to international cricket, a Hollywood scenario more suited to a film starring his cousin, Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe.
Instead, he said he wanted to pit himself against modern cricketers and improve his fitness, while hopefully achieving some long-coveted career milestones along the way.
"It's a serious goal to get fit but it's a fun and light-hearted attempt to see if a 48-year-old can play and at what level," he said.
"Unless you try you will never know."