Andrew Alderson laments six stars we lost in 2016 . . . and our sporting world is poorer for it.

Martin Crowe
Cricketer, September 22, 1962 - March 3, 2016

Martin Crowe. Photo / Getty Images
Martin Crowe. Photo / Getty Images

Arguably New Zealand's finest batsman with the most test centuries (17) and an innovative captain, Crowe became a respected broadcaster, pundit and visionary at home and abroad. He also invented Cricket Max, the format many considered a forerunner to Twenty20. He died of lymphoma, aged 53.

Johan Cruyff
Footballer, April 25, 1947 - March 24, 2016

Dutch forward Hendrik Johannes Cruyff. Photo / AP
Dutch forward Hendrik Johannes Cruyff. Photo / AP

Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or three times and personified the philosophy of Total Football. He led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 World Cup where, as player of the tournament, he launched the feint known as the Cruyff Turn. He died of lung cancer, aged 68.

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Muhammad Ali
Boxer, January 17, 1942 - June 3, 2016

Muhammad Ali. Photo / AP
Muhammad Ali. Photo / AP

Born Cassius Clay, Ali became a three-time heavyweight champion and an activist in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements. His charisma and oratory skills elevated him into a 20th century sporting icon, known simply as 'The Greatest'. Aged 74, Ali suffered from Parkinson's syndrome which doctors attributed to brain-related injuries.

Chris Amon
Motor racer, July 20, 1943 - August 3, 2016

Grand Prix 1969. Chris Amon. Photo / Herald
Grand Prix 1969. Chris Amon. Photo / Herald

A Formula One driver from 1963-1976, he competed in 96 grands prix, earning five pole positions and 11 podium finishes before retiring to the family farm in the Manawatu. Amon won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1966 with Bruce McLaren. Aged 73, he suffered from cancer in recent years.

Arnold Palmer
Golfer, September 10, 1929 - September 25, 2016

Golfer Arnold Palmer. Photo / AP
Golfer Arnold Palmer. Photo / AP

Alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Palmer was known as one of 'The Big Three' who helped grow golf exponentially around the world when television blossomed in the 1950s and 1960s. He won seven majors and 62 PGA tour titles from 1955-1973. His overall career spanned six decades. He was 87.

Max Walker
Cricketer/AFL player, September 12, 1948 - September 28, 2016

Max Walker. Photo / AP
Max Walker. Photo / AP

Walker played 34 tests and 17 one-day internationals for Australia, and six seasons of Australian Rules with the Melbourne Demons. Known as 'Tangles' for his unorthodox bowling action, the qualified architect was renowned as a public speaker, broadcaster and author. He died of myeloma, aged 68.

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