Tributes are flowing after the death of former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe from a rare form of blood cancer. The record-scoring batsman played 77 international matches until retirement in 1995.
Crowe was described by former Indian spin bowler and coach Bishan Bedi as a "giant modern batsman and fine analyst" and by Cricket Australia as a "magnificent cricketer" who would be sadly missed.
Crowe passed away in Auckland on Thursday aged 53, reportedly surrounded by family.
In 2012, he had been diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Crowe's tutelage after retirement had "helped the next generation to excel."
In the late 1990s, Crowe invented a shorter form of the game, marketed as "Max Cricket." It reduced a match to two innings of 10 overs each and became the precursor for the modern Twenty20 game.
Crowe's sporting career had taken him latterly into television production.
His new employer Sky Television felt that a cricket match, often lasting several days, should be more like baseball, prompting Crowe to devise a shortened game of around three hours.
299 in a single match
Crowe made his test debut against Australia in 1982, played widely in England, and scored a remarkable 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991.
He smacked his bat against a door as he walked off, having just missed establishing a first triple century by a New Zealand batsman.
"It's a bit like climbing Everest and pulling an hamstring on the last stride," he later remarked.
His average score during his career's 77 international test matches was just over 45 runs. He died still holding a record of 17 sets of 100 runs.
Crowe once nominated his 182 runs in an innings victory over Australia in 1985 as a career highlight, along with 142 scored against England at Lord's in 1994.
Hollywood star and New Zealand-born cousin Russell Crowe, who had been in frequent contact during the cricketer's decline, said he had lost a true friend.
Martin Crowe's funeral will be held in Auckland on March 11.
ipj/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)