Cape Town - Police are searching for three men believed to be involved in the killing of Western Province cricketer John E Commins.
The 71-year-old Commins and his wife, 70, were sleeping in separate bedrooms of their home in Newlands on Wednesday evening when they were awoken by three men and tied up, said Lieutenant Colonel André Traut on Friday.
"The suspects then ransacked the house, removing an undisclosed amount of cash including foreign currency from the safe, as well as jewellery, before fleeing from the scene in an unknown direction," Traut said.
The wife managed to untie herself before going to help Commins in his bedroom, where she found him tied up and dead.
"Police at this stage believe that the deceased could have been suffocated. There were no signs of any visible injury, however a post mortem will be held to determine the exact cause of death," said Traut.
Police believe the three men gained access to the house through an open window in the wife's bedroom.
Flags are flying at half-mast at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town after the news filtered through about the death of Commins.
"We are deeply sorry to hear the horrific news about John and send our condolences to his family," said Cricket SA acting CEO Jacques Faul on Friday.
"What should be a happy occasion at Newlands - as we celebrate the Proteas' superb performance against New Zealand - has turned into a sad one, and our thoughts are with his wife and family."
Commins played 10 matches for the then WP Cricket Union between 1961 and 1968 and, as a leg-spinner, took 27 first-class wickets at an average of 27.77, with a best bowling performance of five for 32.
He was the youngest brother of former WP CEO Kevin Commins and uncle of John Commins, who represented the Proteas in the 1990s.
Commins' daughter, Donne, manages many past and present South African cricketers, including Mark Boucher.
It was decided to postpone a planned farewell for Boucher at Newlands on Thursday to next month, when the Proteas take on Pakistan in Cape Town.
"We need to recognise the significant role the Commins family has played in cricket in South Africa," Faul said.
"Not only did the two Johns play cricket for us and Kevin play a role in the administration of Western Province, but Donne is a very professional agent who has benefited a lot of our cricketers."
Western Province Cricket Association president Beresford Williams expressed his "shock and horror" at his passing and extended the condolences of the entire South African cricket family to the Commins family.