Tributes paid to former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe

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New Zealand Cricket has paid tribute to the "country's greatest batsman" after former Black Caps skipper Martin Crowe died aged 53.

The batsman had been diagnosed with lymphoma for a second time in September 2014.

Crowe scored 17 centuries in 77 Tests for his country and was named player of the tournament during the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

A statement from NZC read: "New Zealand Cricket is deeply saddened at the passing of our country's greatest batsman, Martin David Crowe, aged 53.

"Our thoughts at this moment are with his much loved family members, friends and all who loved him. NZC will fully acknowledge Martin's enormous contribution to the game at an appropriate juncture."

New Zealand prime minister John Key paid his respects to the batsman, tweeting from @johnkeypm: "Sad to hear of the passing of Martin Crowe today. A true legend of New Zealand sport. Our thoughts are with his family."

Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was among a host of former players to comment, tweeting: "Very sad to hear of the passing of martin crowe this morning. An inspiration to me and so many others. One of our true greats. RIP hogan".

Crowe's cousin, actor Russell Crowe, also joined in, posting: "My champion, my hero, my friend. I will love you forever. RIP M.D.Crowe ."

Martin Crowe captained his country between 1990 and 1993, a time which coincided with the Black Caps' run to the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup.

The skipper scored one century and four fifties in the tournament before New Zealand lost to eventual winners Pakistan at Eden Park.

He retired in 1996 due to a knee injury and went on to work as a television pundit.

Crowe, whose brother Jeff also captained New Zealand, invented Cricket Max, a short format of the game that preceded Twenty20 cricket.

He announced in 2012 he was suffering from lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, which he overcame in 2013.

But he confirmed the disease had returned in 2014 by writing on Twitter: "After a brilliant year of self discovery and recovery I have more work to do. My friend & tough taskmaster Lymphoma is back to teach me."

New Zealand reached the final on the 2015 World Cup and Crowe said before the clash with Australia he would be happy if that game was the last he would see.

He wrote on ESPN Cricinfo: " Without question, this will be the personal cricketing highlight of my life, and I sense for New Zealand too.

"My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy. So this is likely to be it. The last, maybe, and I can happily live with that.

"I will hold back tears all day long. I will gasp for air on occasions. I will feel like a nervous parent. I will, like so many Kiwis making the short trek across the Tasman, feel this to be the greatest cricketing time of our lives."

He is survived by wife Lorraine Downes, daughter Emma and step-children Hilton and Jasmine.

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