The wife of Andrew Strauss, England's former captain and managing director, has died aged 46 following a battle with lung cancer.

"It is with great sadness and immense grief that we have to announce that Ruth passed away today as a result of her rare lung cancer," read a statement from Strauss, issued by the ECB on behalf of his family. "Sam, Luca and I will miss her terribly.

"Anyone who has met Ruth will know how loving, caring and passionately protective she was of her family and it gives us huge comfort that she was in Australia, the land of her birth, surrounded by those who love her, in her final moments."

Strauss met his wife Ruth (nee McDonald) in 1998-99 while playing grade cricket in Sydney, and the pair married in 2003, shortly before he broke into the England reckoning for the first time.

Writing in his autobiography, Driving Ambition, Strauss recalled how their relationship began on a night out in the Beefsteak and Bourbon in Sydney, and how Ruth - a professional theatre actress - provided him with the sort of grounding that he lacked at that early stage of his career.

"She was a little older than me, much more worldly and most of all great company," Strauss wrote.

"Being an actress, she had plenty of days when she wasn't doing much. We explored Sydney, sunbathed constantly on beaches up and down the eastern suburbs, ate loads of ice cream and watched movies and talked in the evenings."

In 2009, after England's victory in the Ashes in his first year as Test captain, Strauss credited Ruth's steadying influence as the pressure of the series intensified, particularly after Australia squared the rubber with one match to go after an innings win at Headingley.

Though Ruth continued her acting career for a time in London, she willingly stepped back to look after the family as Strauss's England career blossomed and the demands on his time increased.

However, the roles were reversed this year as Strauss, who flew home early from last winter's Ashes when his wife's illness intensified, took indefinite leave from his role as England team director in May. His former England team-mate Ashley Giles took up the post on a permanent basis earlier this month.

"[Ruth] has brought up my two boys mainly single-handedly, and has always been there to support me," Strauss added in his autobiography. "She is truly a remarkable woman."

"We would like to send our heartfelt thanks to those that have helped with her treatment over the last 12 months, in particular the wonderful team at University College Hospital in London," Strauss added in his statement.

"Ruth desperately wanted to help those affected by this terrible disease and we will be launching a foundation in due course to raise much needed funds to aid research and also to offer support to patients and their families."

Tributes poured in from the cricket world after the news was announced, with many recalling Ruth's warm and generous personality.

"Life just isn't fair," Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter, while Hayley Trescothick - wife of Strauss's former opening partner Marcus - wrote: "Absolutely heartbroken to hear the passing of Ruth Strauss. She was such a kind, thoughtful and wonderful lady. My heart goes out to Andrew, Sam and Luca."

Kevin Pietersen, who fell out with Strauss towards the end of his England career, put aside their past differences with his own tribute on Twitter.

"I'm absolutely gutted for the Strauss family," he wrote. "Ruth was kind, generous & only thought about others. Jess & I been thinking about them all eve and all morning. So sorry, Straussy! It puts life into perspective in a BIG way!"