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Martin Crowe dead at 53

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/03/2016

JUNE 20, 1990: New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe looks on during New Zealand nets prior to the 2nd Test Match against England at Lords on June 20th, in London, England. © Getty JUNE 20, 1990: New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe looks on during New Zealand nets prior to the 2nd Test Match against England at Lords on June 20th, in London, England. New Zealand cricket great Martin Crowe has died.

The former national captain was 53.

A statement from his family said he died in Auckland on Thursday surrounded by family.

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

Crowe had been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in October 2012 and underwent treatment for the cancer but it returned in September 2014.

Doctors identified his condition as double-hit lymphoma, a rare and aggressive blood disease. Only five per cent of those diagnosed with it live for longer than 12 months.

He chose not to continue with chemotherapy, opting instead to "chill out at home" as he managed his illness with natural remedies.

Crowe said his diagnosis had helped him realise what was important in life.

"The main thing is the love I have for the people around me, and I only really focus on compassion and forgiveness because that's the only way and I didn't used to do that at all.

"I took too long to grow up, and now I've got that perspective on what my life should be about I've probably never been happier."

New Zealand's run to the World Cup cricket final last March featured prominently in Crowe's last months.

He was inducted into the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame at the innings break in New Zealand's pool match against Australia in late February last year, prompting a standing ovation from 40,000 fans at Eden Park.

And when the Black Caps continued their run to the final against Australia, Crowe travelled to Melbourne, describing the match as without question the personal cricketing highlight of his life.

"My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy," Crowe wrote on the ESPNcricinfo website.

"So this is likely to be it. The last, maybe, and I can happily live with that."

A young Martin Crowe along side Sir Richard Hadlee © PA A young Martin Crowe along side Sir Richard Hadlee

Crowe was 19 when he made his international debut against Australia in Wellington in February 1982. He retired 13 years later after playing 77 Tests, having scored 5444 runs at an average of 45.36.

This included 17 centuries, the most by a New Zealand cricketer, while his 299 against Sri Lanka in Wellington in January 1991 stood as a national record until recently-retired New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum scored 302 against India in Wellington in 2014.

Crowe also played 143 ODIs, scoring 4704 runs at an average of 38.55 with four centuries and 34 half-centuries.

He played in three World Cups and led New Zealand to the semi-final of the 1992 tournament, where his side lost to eventual champions Pakistan in Auckland.

He captained New Zealand in 16 Tests and 44 ODIs.

Martin Crowe © Getty Images Martin Crowe Crowe's influence in New Zealand cricket continued in recent years as mentor to Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor.

New Zealand opener Guptill said tips from Crowe had elevated his game, and a message from the former Black Caps skipper was behind his unbeaten 237 in New Zealand's 143-run World Cup quarter-final win over the West Indies in March.

McCullum said Crowe had been invaluable in working on the batting of senior batsmen Taylor and Guptill.

"We're really sad what he's going through. We just really hope he's able to find some peace in the time that he's got left."

Crowe is survived by his wife, former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, and daughter Emma and step-children Hilton and Jasmine.

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