Tributes pour in as Martin Crowe loses cancer fight
The world of cricket has paid heartfelt tribute to Martin Crowe after his death at the age of 53.
Crowe, who has died after a long struggle with cancer, was among the most stylish batsmen to have graced his sport.
New Zealand Cricket described him as the "country's greatest batsman".
International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson, the MCC's Mike Brearley and Crowe's fellow former Somerset great Ian Botham also made clear their admiration.
Crowe, who was diagnosed with lymphoma for a second time in September 2014, scored 17 centuries in 77 Tests for his country and was named player of the tournament at 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."
In an ICC statement, Richardson spoke in similarly reverent tones.
"He was not only one of the finest batsmen New Zealand has ever produced but also one of the very best the world has ever seen.
"Martin's batting combined grace and style with a strong mind and disciplined stroke-selection, making him one of the most exciting batsmen to watch and very difficult to dislodge.
"He was exceptional throughout his career in both forms of the game and against all oppositions."
Crowe became renowned too as a deep thinker about his sport, both in his playing days and - following his retirement because of a knee injury at just 33 - as a pundit and administrator.
Richardson added: "Martin was a larger-than-life cricketer, and a deep and innovative thinker of the game. Despite his serious illness, he was at the forefront of promoting the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 when he made special appearances in New Zealand to talk about the sport he loved and the way it should be played.
"Martin made an outstanding contribution to the game for which we all thank him.
"On behalf of the ICC, I express my deepest condolences to Martin's family, including his elder brother Jeff, who is one of our elite officials, as well as New Zealand Cricket."
Botham and Crowe had an awkward introduction, the former unhappy when the young New Zealander was cast as Somerset's replacement for the highly successful West Indies pair Viv Richards and Joel Garner.
England's finest all-rounder was nonetheless quick to pay tribute, via Twitter.
Botham wrote: "Very sad to wake up to the news that Martin 'Hogan' Crowe has passed away...!!
"One of the best to play the wonderful game !! RIP."
After his playing days, he became an inaugural member of the MCC's world cricket committee.
Current committee chairman, and ex-England captain, Brearley said: "He was a remarkable man, and will be much missed in the cricket world.
"Marty was frank, articulate and passionate about cricket -especially Test cricket."