Tributes for ‘cricket giant’ Procter

Henry

“A Giant has fallen.” This is how Barry Richards paid tribute to his long-time friend and teammate Mike Procter, who died on Saturday at the age of 77.

“We were part of each other’s lives,” Richards said of his 65-year friendship with Procter.

Richards and Procter, who are regarded as two of South Africa’s greatest cricketers, played against each other as schoolboys and then played together for Natal and South Africa at junior and international level.

“Anyone who played for Natal, Rhodesia and Gloucestershire in the 1960s and 70s knew they were in the presence of a genius,” said Richards.

Procter and Richards teamed up for four Tests and South Africa won all four matches against Australia in 1969-70 before their international careers were cut short by the international isolation caused by South Africa’s apartheid policy.

Vintcent van der Bijl described his former team-mate as “the most unpretentious great cricketer I have known”.

Van der Bijl said Procter was “a fighter on the field”.

“He played the game tough and yet was an amateur at heart. He ended each pre-match session by saying: ‘Let’s go and have some fun.’ He played the game the way it should always be played. It was a real privilege to play with and against him.”

Fast bowler Allan Donald made his international debut under Procter.

“I learned a lot from him. Just listening to him was an experience. He made me aware of what it takes to have the mentality of a fast bowler,” he said.

Ali Bacher, former managing director of South African cricket, captained Procter in the series against Australia.

“He was one of the most outstanding cricketers that South Africa has produced. He bowled fast, swung deliveries and as a batsman was good enough to bat at number five for any country in the world,” he said.

Rihan Richards, president of Cricket South Africa, described Procter as “not only a giant on the field, but a beacon of hope and inspiration off the field”.

Dolphins Cricket, formerly the Natal Cricket Union, said in a statement that Procter’s “legacy will continue as an inspiration for generations to come”.

“His career as a world-class cricketer was outstanding, his leadership skills were noteworthy and his role as a cricket administrator and coach was remarkable.”

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club has announced it will fly its flag at half-mast until the start of the English county season as a tribute to the man who played 482 games for the club and was captain from 1977 to 1981.