Martin Crowe, the former New Zealand captain, passed away at the age of 53 in Auckland on Thursday (March 3) after a long battle with cancer.
“It is with heavy hearts that the family of Martin Crowe, MBE, advise his death,” his family said in a statement. “Diagnosed in September 2014 with terminal double-hit lymphoma, he passed away peacefully today, Thursday 3rd March in Auckland surrounded by family. The family request privacy at this time.”
Crowe had revealed he had lymphoma in October 2012, saying eight months later that he was in remission, only for the cancer to return in September 2014.
He made his debut in February 1982 and had a fruitful career that spanned almost 14 years, before retiring in November 1995.
Hailing from a cricketing family — his father Dave played first grade and brother Jeff also captained New Zealand — Crowe made his Test debut aged 19 against Australia. He was soon hyped as the best young batsman in the world, with the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack naming him cricketer of the year in 1985.
Crowe also won plaudits for his captaincy in both the Test and One-Day International formats, including innovative attack-from-the-outset tactics at the 1992 World Cup. These included using Mark Greatbatch as a pinch-hitter to take advantage of the fielding restrictions in the opening overs, opening the bowling with Dipak Patel, an offspinner, and inventive field placings. Crowe was named the Man of the Tournament, and led his side to the semifinals after they had topped the league stage. They were beaten by Pakistan, the eventual champions, with a young Inzamam-ul-Haq announcing his arrival with a breathtaking innings.
Crowe 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 half-centuries (35) and most hundreds (17) — the last of which still stands.
In retirement, Crowe devised a new ultra-short form of the game called Cricket Max for Sky Television, his new employers, which was pitched to British officials and helped lay the foundation for the modern Twenty20 revolution.
He was a mentor for many New Zealand players, most notably Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill from the current side. Crowe was crucial in helping Taylor through a tough period, which saw him replaced by Brendon McCullum as captain in 2012, and regain form during the lead-up to the second Test in England in 2015. Guptill, who hit a record unbeaten 237 during the quarterfinal against West Indies at the 2015 World Cup, too, sought guidance on batting technique among other things from Crowe.
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
— Stephen Fleming (@SPFleming7) March 3, 2016
Crowe was inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame in March last year.
Later, in what turned out to be one of his last public appearances, Crowe praised McCullum and his men at the New Zealand Cricket Awards in April for having laid the foundation for young children through their performance at the World Cup and said the side had won “at the higher level, which is the spirit, which is the method, which is the love”.
Crowe is survived by his second wife, Lorraine Downes, who he married in 2009, daughter Emma, and stepchildren Hilton and Jasmine.