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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
ICC president Percy Sonn mourned
Percy Sonn
Percy Sonn had officially opened the 2007 World Cup
Percy Sonn, the first African president of the International Cricket Council, has died in Cape Town at the age of 57, it was announced on Sunday.

Sonn had undergone a routine bowel operation on Monday, a procedure that had been scheduled back in February.

But complications developed and after the surgery he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Durbanville.

He leaves his wife Sandra and three children, a daughter and two sons, plus his mother, six brothers and a sister.

Sonn, the former president of the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCB), succeeded Ehsan Mani at the helm of the ICC in June 2006.

He delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Jamaica but took a low-key role in the maligned tournament from that point.

In March, Sonn was invited to extend his standard two-year term by one after a deadlock at a board meeting over his two potential successors, Welshman David Morgan and India's Sharad Pawar.

Mani paid the following tribute: "As a cricket administrator and a man, Percy Sonn was a giant.

"It is a tragedy that he was only able to fill the role of ICC President for one year. I have lost a great personal friend and my thoughts are with his family."

Born in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, Sonn, a lawyer, was in charge of the Scorpions - South Africa's equivalent of the FBI - and served as the deputy national director of public prosecutions before moving into cricket administration.

Percy never saw problems, just challenges, and usually he rose to those challenges

Ray Mali, Cricket South Africa president

In 2002, as president of the the United Cricket Board of South Africa, he controversially over-ruled the selection of Jacques Rudolph for the New Year Test against Australia, opting instead for Rudolph's black room-mate, Justin Ontong.

At Paarl, during the a 2003 World Cup featuring India and the Netherlands, he embarrassed himself after over-indulging in alcohol.

But he was an effective force when the ICC strove to remedy the internal crisis in Kenyan cricket.

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Morgan said: "He did a huge amount of good work in re-establishing cricket as a sport for all the people in South Africa throughout the apartheid years and afterwards.

"He was highly respected as a cricket administrator throughout southern Africa - and in the wider world."

Cricket South Africa President Ray Mali said: "Percy never saw problems, just challenges, and usually he rose to those challenges, never more so than when he helped resolve the problems within Kenyan cricket.

"Our prayers are with Sandra and his family at this desperate time."

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: "Percy was never afraid to speak his mind but his great skill, especially in meetings where discord was possible, was to do so in such a way that he got everyone together and pulling in the same direction."

Captain of the World Cup-winning Australia team Ricky Ponting, speaking from Sydney, said: "I will always associate Percy with one of the happiest moments of my career.

"He was the man who handed over the Cricket World Cup trophy to the Australia team at the end of the tournament in Barbados last month.

"He and his wife then flew with us back from Barbados to London where we went our separate ways and to think he is no longer with us less than a month later is a huge shock."

Embarrassed Sonn says sorry
14 Feb 03 |  South Africa
Pollock disputes Ontong selection
02 Jan 02 |  Australia v South Africa


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