New Zealand cricket great Martin Crowe dies aged 53

New Zealand cricket great Martin Crowe has died at the age of 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.

He 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 5% 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.”

The former Black Caps captain scored 17 centuries in 77 Tests for his country and was considered one of the greatest batsmen of his generation, leading his country between 1990 and 1993.

The elegant right-hander also scored 4,704 runs at an average of 38.55 in one-day internationals.

In 1991 he was named New Zealand sportsman of the year and was also awarded an MBE for services to cricket.

He was at his inspirational best during the 1992 World Cup, when he led New Zealand with flair to reach the semi final in front of a partisan home crowd.

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, Lorraine Downes, and daughter Emma and step-children Hilton and Jasmine.

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