Cricket: New Zealand batting legend Martin Crowe dies aged 53

Former New Zealand's cricket captain Martin Crowe being inducted into ICC Cricket hall of fame during the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Former New Zealand's cricket captain Martin Crowe being inducted into ICC Cricket hall of fame during the 2015 Cricket World Cup. PHOTO: AFP
Martin Crowe in action on Oct 4, 1992.
Martin Crowe in action on Oct 4, 1992. PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand's greatest batsman Martin Crowe died on Thursday (March 3) at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer, his family said.

"It is with heavy hearts that the family of Martin Crowe, MBE, advise his death," they said in a statement.

"Diagnosed in September 2014 with terminal double-hit lymphoma, he passed away peacefully today, Thursday, March 3, in Auckland surrounded by family."

Crowe enjoyed a 13-year international career from 1982-95, including four years as captain.

He had a Test average of 45.36 in 77 matches and held a slew of New Zealand batting records when he retired, including most Test runs (5,444), highest Test score (299), most 50s (35) and most hundreds (17) - the last of which still stands.

In his retirement, Crowe devised a new ultra-short form of the game called Cricket Max for his new employer Sky Television, which was pitched to British officials and helped lay the foundation for the modern Twenty20 revolution.

Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming hailed Crowe as "one of our true greats".

"An inspiration to me and so many others," he tweeted.

Actor Russell Crowe, who is the cricketer's cousin, also paid tribute on Twitter by calling him "my champion, my hero, my friend".