Former Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka died on Thursday at the age of 65.

Chingoka was one of the first black Zimbabweans to make his name in cricket, initially as a player and subsequently in administration. As a seamer and a useful lower-order batsman in his youth, Chingoka captained the South African XI that played in the Gillette Cup knockout competition in 1975-76 and 1976-77, counting Barry Richards among his dismissals.

While his playing career never took off as expected, Chingoka became an increasingly important figure in cricket administration after Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, and was appointed vice-president of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union in 1990. Two years later, Chingoka took over from David Ellman-Brown as president, overseeing the most successful period of Zimbabwe cricket in the 1990s, and holding the position for many years.

ICC paid tribute to Chingoka's achievements, drawing attention to his contribution to the game not only in Zimbabwe but "across Africa". As well as holding the positions of ZCU president, and later chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, Chingoka was a member of the ICC board.

"The death of Mr Chingoka is sad news for the cricket world," ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney said. "He was widely acknowledged as an important leader in cricket in Zimbabwe and was a respected member of the ICC Board. It was with great sadness that we learnt of his death. On behalf of the ICC, I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends."

Chingoka's time in charge was not without its difficulties, however, and his tenure increasingly mirrored the decline of Zimbabwe as a whole, with an exodus of talent, the collapse of established structures and allegations of mismanagement. He stepped down as chairman of ZC in July 2014 following a string of controversies regarding the board's financial state and players' salaries, but remained available as a consultant to the ZC leadership.

"Though Peter had retired from the active administration of cricket, he still remained a vital cog and a repository of cricket knowledge in the country which could be called upon to give wise counsel at any time," a statement by Zimbabwe's Sports and Recreation Commission said. "The void that Peter has left will undoubtedly be very difficult to fill."

Expressing his grief at Chingoka's passing, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, the ZC chief, called it a massive loss to the nation and the global cricket family. "Mr Chingoka was a wonderful and very modest man who was well-respected and admired for his immense contribution to cricket," Mukuhlani said. "His dedication to the game of cricket is well-documented and he was well regarded internationally as an administrator.

"The global cricket family is certainly honoured and fortunate to have benefitted from his visionary leadership and hard work. He will forever live on in our memories and in what all of us have become because of him.

"On behalf of the ZC board, management, players and staff, I would like to pass our heartfelt condolences to Mr Chingoka's loving wife, Shirley, the rest of his family, friends as well as the entire nation and the global cricket family on the loss of the great man. You are all in our thoughts and we pray that you find strength and courage to get through this difficult time."

Liam Brickhill is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent