New Zealand‘s greatest test cricket batsman of all-time, Martin Crowe has passed away in Auckland. He was 53.

Crowe had been battling lymphoma since 2012, a disease which he blamed on a weakened immune system following a lifetime of touring the world and encountering various illnesses in his younger years.

Widely regarded as one of the finest batsmen of the era, as well as being one of the finest athletes in the history of New Zealand sport, Crowe’s international career with the Black Caps began in 1982, when the then-20 year old was selected for his first test match against Australia.

Despite a shaky start, Crowe’s prodigious talent eventually shone through, and his international test and one-day career became one of the most celebrated in New Zealand, and world cricket.

Crowe’s 77 test matches for NZ yielded 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36, which included 17 test centuries (a New Zealand record that still stands), with a top score of 299 (which was only recently bettered by the retiring Brendon McCullum, who became the first Kiwi to reach triple figures in a test innings).

Crowe was also known for his innovation. During his time as New Zealand captain between 1990 and 1993, Crowe introduced a number of concepts to the game that are still employed today, including opening the bowling with spin, unusual field positions, and utilising pinch hitting batsmen.

After retiring in 1995 at 33 due to chronic and on-going knee issues, Crowe’s stature within NZ cricket grew, and his widely beloved character became something of a spiritual guide for all future Black Caps sides.

Following his diagnosis with lymphoma, Crowe went into remission in 2013. However in 2014 the disease returned, and Crowe was given a grim prognosis.

His wish to see out the 2015 Cricket World Cup came to fruition, and Crowe penned an emotional tribute to his beloved national side as he prepared to travel to Melbourne for the World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand at the MCG in March of last year.

“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. To see the two sons I never had, Ross Taylor and Marty Guptill, run out in black, in sync with their close comrades, drawing on all their resolve and resilience, will be mesmerically satisfying. 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, as McCullum has stated clearly, to be the greatest cricketing time of our lives. Four million dare to believe, while 11 (and back-up) dare to achieve. Whatever happens, March 29 at the MCG will be the most divine fun ever.”

Martin Crowe embodied the joy, the spirit, and the essence of the game of cricket perhaps better than any other person in the modern era. A constant source of inspiration for New Zealand’s highly beloved national team, and a mentor to its players striving to achieve greatness for Aotearoa.

His passing is a tremendous blow for New Zealand cricket, and an awfully sad day for the cricketing world writ large.

Martin Crowe, era i roto i te rangimarie.

Source: NZ Herald.

Photo: Getty.