Cricket legend Mike Procter passed away

Henry

Mike Procter, South Africa's former national cricket coach, died on Saturday at the age of 77.

“He suffered a complication during an operation, became unconscious and never woke up again,” his wife, Maryna Procter, told AFP.

Procter experienced complications during a routine operation the week before last. “While recovering in the intensive care unit, he experienced heart problems,” his family said earlier. Procter was treated in a hospital near his hometown, the coastal city of Durban.

Procter's international career was cut short in 1970 when South Africa was excluded from world cricket due to the policies of the apartheid government. Before the ban, South Africa won six of the seven Tests in which Procter played, all against Australia.

However, he refused to feel bitter because he was deprived of a long Test career. “A lot of people lost a lot more in those years, and if we played a part in changing an unfair system by missing a Test career, then that's fine with me.”

He was mainly known as a fearsome fast bowler and took 41 wickets at an average of 15.02 runs in his seven Tests. But he was also a flamboyant batsman and equaled a world batting record when he hit six hundreds in consecutive innings.

After South Africa became a democracy and returned to international cricket, Procter became the coach of the South African team and led them to the semi-finals of the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

Procter played first-class cricket for 16 years, including 14 seasons with English county Gloucestershire, five of them as captain, where he achieved legendary status.

David Graveney, a former Gloucestershire teammate of Procter, said the South African “was a fantastic player and quite rightly regarded as one of the best all-rounders to ever represent Gloucestershire”.

“He was just one of the best I ever played with. The phrase 'Proctershire' was very apt for Mike. He delivered the biggest performances in the biggest games.”

Locally, he played most of his cricket for the then Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). In his career, he scored 21,082 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 36.92, hit 47 hundreds and took 1,357 wickets at an average of 19.07 runs.

Procter leaves behind his wife and two children.