- Martin Crowe dies aged 53 after cancer battle
- Arguably New Zealand's greatest-ever batsman
- Actor cousin Russell Crowe leads tributes
- "My champion, my hero ..." Crowe tweets
(CNN)Former New Zealand cricketer Martin Crowe has died aged 53 after a long battle with cancer.
Crowe, widely considered New Zealand's greatest-ever batsman, was diagnosed with a lymphoma in 2012 and was in remission for a time, before suffering a relapse in 2014.
Tributes for the batsmen, famed for his fluency and elegance at the crease, poured in from all over the world.
Crowe's cousin, movie actor Russell Crowe, tweeted: "My champion, my hero, my friend. I will love you forever. RIP M.D.Crowe."
Former England all-rounder Ian Botham also paid tribute.
"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," Botham tweeted.
Crowe played 77 Test matches between 1982 and 1995, captaining the Black Caps in 16 Tests and scored 5,444 runs, including 17 centuries.
He hit a high score of 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991.
"New Zealand Cricket is deeply saddened at the passing of our country's greatest batsman, Martin David Crowe," a statement on its official website read.
"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."
Part of a talented family, Crowe's older brother, Jeff, also played 39 Tests for New Zealand. His close family and friends released a statement saying he passed away peacefully.
"It is with heavy hearts that the family of Martin Crowe, MBE advise his death," it read.