Rice remembered as ‘one of the greatest cricketers of all time’

Clive Rice died this morning while being treated for septicaemia in a Johannesburg hospital.

An undated picture released by Saspa shows South African cricket legend Clive Rice practising in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP/Saspa.

JOHANNESBURG - Condolences continue to pour in from family and friends of the late Clive Rice.

The former Proteas player died in Johannesburg from septicaemia during the early hours of this morning.

Rice only represented South Africa on three occasions in the 1990s, largely missing out on an international career due to South Africa's sporting boycott in the apartheid years.

He was also part of a brilliant Transvaal team in the 1970s known as the 'mean machine'.

Rice's former team mate and opponent Brian McMillan has described him as 'one of the greatest cricketers of all time'.

McMillan played for the Transvaal team captained by Rice in the late 1980s.

He says Rice always sought the best from team mates on the field.

"He's probably the one person you wanted on your team rather than as the opposition. He was competitive and worked very hard. He hated losing."

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat said, "His playing days for the 'mean machine' will be remembered by many and he was a powerful character in that team. For me, it would be leading the Proteas to India… it's something I will never forget."

Also singing Rice's praises is former Cricket South Africa administrator, Ali Bacher, who described Rice as a formidable cricketer who was denied the opportunity to show his full talent to the world.

The 66-year-old only made his international debut in 1991 at the age of 42.

Bacher says Rice was one of the toughest men to play against.

"Clive was a great competitor, he played hard and he played clean."

Meanwhile, Rice's former team mate Peter Kirsten has described him as a cricket great whose career was stifled by apartheid.

Kirsten says by then, the world had missed out on Rice's best years.

"I think his whole career would have been devastating because it overlapped with the apartheid era. In 1970 he was chosen for the South African team to go to Australia but that was cancelled and when he did get back in he was thought of as being over the hill."

He was one of the game's leading all-rounders with nearly 1,000 first-class and List A matches behind his name.

In a statement Free State Cricket Union President, Zola Thamae, said "As a first in Protea Cricket he will be sadly be missed for the role he played in cricket but the legacy he has left behind will soldier on. Our condolences to his family and the cricket fraternity as a whole."

South Africa born England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has also paid tribute to Clive Rice for the role he played in his career.

In an exclusive interview with EWN, Pietersen spoke of the fatherly figure Rice played in his life, particularly during the time he first left South Africa to play in England.

"He was such a tough character on the field but he was such a gentleman off the field and that's the kind of stuff I will always remember; how caring he was. Yes, the cricket is one thing but I moved to England as a young little kid, no family, no friends and he'd invite me around to his house all the time for dinner and we would just sit in the lounge and talk about anything and everything".

Pietersen remembers the good times he shared with 'Ricey' as he affectionately called him.

"Every single time or whenever I scored a test 100 I would message Ricey and ask him if he wanted my test 100; I am happy to give him one of my test 100s because he never got the opportunity".

Rice's death has come as a huge shock after he appeared to be making a good recovery from a cancer-related brain tumour for which he'd been receiving treatment abroad.

He's survived by his wife and two children.