Diagnosed in September 2014 with terminal double-hit lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer, he passed away in Auckland surrounded by family.
“It is with heavy hearts that the family of MartinCrowe, MBE, advise his death,” his family said.
The batsman’s cousin, Hollywood star Russell Crowe, who was in frequent contact during his cancer fight, said he had lost a true friend.
“My champion, my hero, my friend. I will love you forever. RIP M.D.Crowe,” the New Zealand-born actor tweeted.
Crowe’s family said he died surrounded by his loved ones and asked for privacy after the star’s lengthy and very public battle with the disease, adding: “God speed. Rest in peace.”
Crowe enjoyed a 13-year international career from 1982-95, including four years as captain.
He 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 50s (35) and most hundreds (17) — the last of which still stands.
In his retirement, Crowe devised a new ultra-short form of the game called Cricket Max for his new employer Sky Television, which helped lay the foundation for the modern Twenty20 revolution.
An ICC Hall of Fame inductee, he remained involved with New Zealand’s top players until the end, mentoring batsmen such as Ross Taylor and MartinGuptill.
He particularly enjoyed the Black Caps’ fairytale run to the Cricket World Cup final last year, admitting at the time that he had been uncertain he would live to see the tournament.
“Martin was a truly great sportsman — one of our finest-ever batsmen and sharpest cricketing minds,” Prime Minister John Key said.
– ‘Sixth sense’ –
Former Black Cap Craig Cumming said most experts agreed Crowe’s career statistics would have been even more imposing but for a string of injuries.
“He had that freak ability to predict what length the ball was going to be bowled from the release point,” he said.
“So he was already getting in position based on how the ball was released and his sixth sense allowed him to do that.”
New Zealand Cricket said it was “deeply saddened” at the loss of the country’s greatest batsman, while Cricket Australia hailed “a magnificent cricketer and wonderful man who will be sadly missed”.
Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming called Crowe “one of our true greats”.
“An inspiration to me and so many others,” he tweeted.
Others hailed Crowe’s innovative captaincy, with Australia’s Tom Moody calling him a “master batsman and one of the great thinkers in our game”.
One ex-teammate Dion Nash said “the world is suddenly a lesser place”, while another, Ian Smith, said he was stunned at the loss of his friend.
“To realise that he’s gone at just 53, quite staggering,” he told Radio Sport.
“For those of us who grew up watching cricket in the 80s, we owe him immensely,” ex-Black Cap-turned-television commentator Scott Styris tweeted.
Rugby union’s world champion All Blacks declared Crowe “a true NZ sporting great” while the scoreboard at Wellington’s Basin Reserve simply read “RIPMartin Crowe 299” — his highest score, achieved at the ground in 1991.
Condolences pour in
Gutted to wake up to hear of the passing away of Martin Crowe…A player & person I hugely admired .. A true great of the game .. #RIPHogan
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 3, 2016
RT Cricketopia: “Martin Crowe Was The Best Player Against Reverse Swing” – wasimakramlive
Watch Martin Crowe aga… pic.twitter.com/mObt8DqaKP
— Politwital News (@Politwital) March 3, 2016
Saddened to hear of the passing of a great cricketer Martin Crowe – the best New Zealand captain I played against.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 3, 2016
— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) March 3, 2016
There were occasions when Sachin & me actually copied him, he was one of my favourite batsman. RIP, Martin Crowe.
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) March 3, 2016
Good man, great cricketer, outstanding captain and a fighter taken away too early. Goodbye Martin Crowe, loved around the world.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 3, 2016
Very sad to hear about the passing of Martin Crowe!! Thoughts and prayers with his family and loved ones! True legend and great man! RIP
— Neil Wagner (@NeilWagner13) March 3, 2016
Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe; Player of the 1992 World Cup & ICC Cricket Hall of Famer has died aged 53 pic.twitter.com/IHpt42GCRv
— ICC (@ICC) March 3, 2016
RIP Martin Crowe !!! One of the best !!!
— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) March 3, 2016