Tributes have flooded in on 3 March for former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe, who died after a long battle with cancer at age 53. Widely considered New Zealands finest batsman, Crowe was initially diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in 2012 before the disease went into remission.

In September 2014, Crowe said a more aggressive form, known as double hit lymphoma, had developed and he had been told only 5% of patients survive more than 12 months. Crowes funeral will be held in Auckland on 11 March.

He was always really positive and had some really nice messages to share with me and certainly appreciated that from a legend of the game, Kane Williamson told reporters at Auckland airport before leaving for the T20 World Cup in India.

After making his first-class debut as a teenager, Crowe played the first of his 77 tests against Australia in 1982. He went on to score 5,444 runs at an average of 45.36, with 17 centuries, still a record for the country. He had a top-score of 299, falling a single short of becoming the first New Zealander to score a test triple century, against Sri Lanka in 1991. That mark stood until Brendon McCullum scored 302 against India in 2014. The elegant right-hander also scored 4,704 runs at an average of 38.55 in one-day internationals.

Peoples hearts were touched by the battle that Martin Crowe had, said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

The New Zealand flag flew at half-mast at Auckland Grammar where Crowe attended school with his good friend and the former All Blacks international, Grant Fox.

We had a little bet, as arrogant, brash school boys do, as to who would play the most test matches for their country. Neither of us knew what that outcome would be but Marty played 77 and I played 46 but he won the numbers game but Ive got a print of Lords on my wall, that says: To Foxy, we both won, from Hogan − its very special to me because we both won, said Fox.

His death was keenly felt in cricketing circles, with an outpouring of tributes flowing on social media. Cricket Wellington, one of the three first-class teams Crowe played for in New Zealand, described him as a genius, true legend of the game, while former Indian legspinner Anil Kumble called him a cricketing icon.

New Zealand Cricket issued a short statement acknowledging Crowes death on their website on Thursday 3 March and a spokesman said they were honouring his familys wishes for privacy.