Late Mike Procter’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations

The late Mike Procter during his time as a International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee. Picture: Jewel Samad / AFP

The late Mike Procter during his time as a International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee. Picture: Jewel Samad / AFP

Published Feb 19, 2024


Legendary South African cricket all-rounder Mike Procter has died following complications during heart surgery.

Procter, 77, was the Proteas’ first national team coach after readmission, leading his team to the 1992 World Cup semi-final at the first attempt in Australia and New Zealand. He was also a long-serving International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee.

“Mike was not just a giant on the field but a beacon of hope and inspiration off it,” said Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairperson Rihan Richards.

“His commitment to transforming the game, ensuring its growth among all sectors of our population, and mentoring hundreds of underprivileged youngsters in the Durban area, stands as a testament to his character and passion for cricket.”

Procter's international playing career was limited to seven Tests – all against Australia – due to the ban imposed on South African sport during the 1970s and 1980s as a result of the government’s apartheid policies.

Procter, though, had the opportunity to shine for his beloved Natal, Western Province, Rhodesia and Orange Free State in the local Currie Cup, where he once struck six successive centuries. He also starred for Gloucestershire on the English County Championship circuit for 13 seasons.

He also earned worldwide acclaim playing for the Rest of the World versus England in 1970, claiming 15 wickets at an average of 23.9 in five Test-format matches.

In 1978/79, towards the end of his playing career, Procter played for the World XI in Kerry Packer’s World Series of Cricket in Australia.

He performed with bat and ball in the three ‘Super Tests’ in which he played – his batting average was 34.2 and his bowling average 18.6. He dedicated his final years to coaching underprivileged children in KwaZulu-Natal.

The chairperson of CSA’s board of directors, Lawson Naidoo, said: “Mike’s contributions to cricket, both on and off the field, have left an indelible mark on the sport.

“His efforts to promote cricket among the youth and his dedication to transformation have enriched our cricketing community and opened doors for young talent to emerge. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations.”

Procter was an accomplished, feared, and very unorthodox bowler. He had an awkward chest-on action, seeming to bowl off the wrong foot, though not actually doing so, at the end of a very long sprinting run up to the wicket.

It proved hugely successful as he claimed the remarkable record of twice taking a hat-trick and scoring a century in the same match.

Long-time friend and teammate Barry Richards said “a giant has fallen” as he paid tribute to Procter.

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

Richards and Procter, acknowledged as two of South Africa’s greatest cricketers, started playing against each other as schoolboys.

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

Fast bowler Allan Donald made his international debut under him.

“I learned a lot from him,” Donald said. “Just to listen to him was an experience. He made me aware of what was needed to have the mentality of a fast bowler.”

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, swinging deliveries and as a batsman was good enough to have batted at number five for any country in the world,” he said.

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

Procter leaves behind his wife Maryna and their children Greg, Jessica, and Tammy.