Elise Lombard dies of heart attack
Elise Lombard, the chief executive of South Africa's Titans franchise, died on Thursday after a sudden heart attack. Lombard was the only female chief executive in the country's cricket administration and had been in charge of the Northerns Cricket Union, which amalgamated with Easterns to form the franchise in 2004, for 30 years.
During her time at the helm, Lombard was involved with the development of SuperSport Park in Centurion into a Test venue and presided over the most successful franchise in South African domestic cricket. Titans have won more trophies than any other franchise and have qualified for the upcoming Champions League T20, which will be hosted in South Africa. Lombard was involved with the organisation of that event.
"This has come as a huge blow to all of us and one that will be felt by the entire CSA family throughout the country," Jacques Faul, the Cricket South Africa acting CEO, said. "During her time in office she turned the Easterns-Titans franchise into one of the powerhouses in the land and she contributed enormously to the financial well-being of the game."
Lombard was the guest speaker at CSA's ladies' function on Wednesday, an event held to commemorate National Women's Day on August 9, the day she died.
Tributes poured in from around the cricketing world, including from some of the players she first administered. Steve Elworthy, now director of marketing and communication at the ECB, posted on Twitter. "Terrible news, just heard Elise Lombard, Titans CEO while I played 14 yrs, passed away, condolences to the family - very sad news".
Pat Symcox, the former South Africa offspinner, also remembered Lombard as signing his first bonus - the equivalent of just over US$0.50 in today's terms. "RIP Elise Lombard! what a lady since my debut for Northerns in 1983!Signed my first bonus cheque that season… R4.63!Great loss to SA cricket."
Current players also sent their messages of condolence such as Faf du Plessis: "So sad 2 hear about titans ceo elise lombard's death. was an amazing woman who did so much for 4 the titans and always with a smile on her face."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent