IBTimes UK

Former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe died at the age of 53, after a prolonged battle with cancer.

"It is with heavy hearts that the family of Martin Crowe, MBE advise his death," a family statement said, according to TVNZ.

"Diagnosed in September 2014 with terminal double-hit lymphoma, he passed away peacefully, Thursday 3 March in Auckland surrounded by family" the statement said.

Crowe, regarded as New Zealand's best batsman ever, was suffering from lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

He had been declared free of the disease in 2012, but the caner returned in 2014.

Crowe scored 17 Test centuries and accumulated 5,444 runs from the longest format of the game. His highest Test score was 299 against Sri Lanka in Wellington in 1991. He led the Kiwis in 16 Test matches.

Crowe, a cousin of the Hollywood actor Russell Crowe, said in 2014 he had come to terms with the disease and the 'precarious' days left for him.

"My precarious life ahead may not afford me the luxury of many more games to watch and enjoy. So this is likely to be it. The last, maybe, and I can happily live with that," he said, referring to New Zealand's World Cup final against Australia.