Peter van der Merwe, the former South Africa captain, has died at the age of 75 in Port Elizabeth. He had been in poor health, Cricket South Africa said.

Van der Merwe played 15 Tests for South Africa, from 1963 to 1967, and captained in eight of them, leading the team to a series victory in England in 1965 and their first ever series victory over Australia in 1966-67. He was originally a left-arm spinner and later developed into a middle-order batsman.

After retiring, he served as South Africa's chairman of selectors when they were re-admitted to international cricket in 1991, for the tour of India and the 1992 World Cup. He also served as an ICC match referee from 1992 to 1999.

Jacques Faul, the acting CSA chief executive, said van der Merwe had played a vital role as a cricketer and administrator. "Peter made an immense contribution to South African cricket both on and off the field," he said. "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."

The Eastern Province Cricket Board president Graeme Sauls also paid tribute: "I was very sad to hear that Peter van der Merwe had passed away after a long illness. It is ironic that I have just finished reading the autobiography of Peter Pollock and he speaks fondly of his former shrewd South African captain who led South Africa to series wins against England in 1965 and against Australia in 1966-67. Peter, of course, also represented and captained EP during his playing days and I would like to on behalf of everyone involved in Eastern Province Cricket to extend our heartfelt condolences to Peter's family."