Former South Africa captain Peter van der Merwe passed away in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday from a prolonged illness, Cricket South Africa (CSA) reported. Van der Merwe was 75.
After starting his career as a left-arm spinner, van der Merwe became a reliable middle-order batsman and was a great fielder.
Van der Merwe will always be remembered for his dynamic leadership and attacking style of batting, which improved as his short playing career progressed.
He played just 15 Test matches for the Proteas and captained them in eight. In fact, his first Test saw him being drafted in as the vice-captain to Trevor Goddard, which is an ode to his captaincy skills.
He led them to a series win over England in 1965 and then a memorable first-ever series victory over Australia at home in 1966-67.
Cricket South Africa paid tribute to van der Merwe following his death.
“Peter made an immense contribution to South African cricket both on and off the field,” said Jacques Faul, acting CEO of CSA, as quoted by their website.
“He played a major role in changing the mindset of South African cricket from a defensive to an attacking style of play. He was hugely popular with and respected by his players.
“As an administrator he was our first national convener of selectors and also served the game internationally as an ICC match referee for eight years. He was also the first president of the Eastern Province Cricket Board (EPCB) after unity.
“On behalf of the South African cricket family I extend our sympathies to his family and friends.”
He became the first national convener of selectors when South African cricket was unified in 1991, including for the historic first tour to India that year as well as the World Cup in 1992.
Van der Merwe is survived by his second wife, Rhoda, and three sons from his first marriage to Margaret, who died in 2002.
First Published: January 25, 2013, 11:16 am