Hylton Ackerman, the former Western Province captain, passed away in Cape Town on Wednesday morning at the age of 62 following a long illness. Ackerman never played for South Africa but turned out for the Rest of the World XI against Australia in 1971-72.
After playing first-class cricket for nearly 20 years and scoring over 12,000 runs, Ackerman turned to coaching, where he was instrumental in the development of the young Hashim Amla. In 2000 the South African board persuaded him not to take up the job as Zimbabwe national coach by giving him charge of the South Africa A and the Under-19 sides.
He made his debut for South African Schools at the age of 14 years and eight months - the youngest at that time - and his first-class debut for Border at 16. When he scored his maiden first-class century the next year against the visiting MCC side, he became only the second schoolboy to reach the landmark against an international touring team.
Ackerman opened with Gavaskar for the Rest of the World XI and scored a century in the first Test and half-centuries in the final two. He averaged 37.41 on the tour.
He led Western Province to victory in the 1977-78 Currie Cup. He also played for Northamptonshire from 1967 to 1971, scoring over 1000 runs in three of those seasons.
His son HD Ackerman, the former South Africa batsman, also played for Western Province and retired from Leicestershire earlier this season.
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said Ackerman had a wonderful cricketing brain and many players had benefitted from his advice and wisdom. "I don't think I have ever met anybody who was more passionate about the game than Hylton and I will always cherish the conversations I had with him," Arthur said.
Cricket South Africa president Mtutuzeli Nyoka said Ackerman had made a tremendous contribution to coaching and to developing young players in the country. "He coached the South African under-19 side to the runners-up spot at the 2002 junior World Cup in New Zealand - a squad that included Hashim Amla, Imraan Khan and Johan Botha," Nyoka said. "There were other future international players who passed through his hands at South African A team level. Hylton had an almost unrivalled passion for the game and his contribution to South African cricket is something for which we will always be grateful."