South Africa and Gloucestershire all-rounder legend Mike Procter dies, aged 77

Mike Procter
Mike Procter seen in 2008 as International Cricket Council match referee for the Asia Cup in Lahore - PRAKASH SINGH/AFP

Mike Procter, the spectacular South African all-rounder, has died aged 77, following complications during heart surgery.

While Procter’s Test career was limited to just seven matches because it coincided with the sporting exile imposed on South Africa due to apartheid, he had an extraordinary domestic career for Gloucestershire and Natal.

Procter was an outstanding seamer bowler with an unorthodox action – very front-on and off the wrong foot – and he also bowled off-breaks. He was a destructive batsman who once emulated Sir Don Bradman and CB Fry in scoring centuries in six successive innings.

In 401 first-class matches between 1965 and 1988, he scored 21,936 runs, including 48 centuries, and took 1,417 wickets. There were a further 6,624 and 344 wickets in 271 one-day matches.

That included 14 seasons in Bristol, where he is revered as a club legend to the extent that Gloucestershire became known as Proctershire. Gloucestershire said their flag would be at half-mast until the new Championship season begins on April 5 in recognition of his contribution to the club.

Thirty-two of his first-class centuries came for Gloucestershire as well as an extraordinary haul of 833 wickets at 19.6. He memorably took four wickets in five balls – including the West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge and his fellow South African Barry Richards – in the Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final at Southampton in 1977. Gloucestershire went on to beat Kent in the final at Lord’s.

In his seven Tests, all against Australia, Procter took 41 wickets at an average of 15. Many good judges believe that if he had been able to play more international cricket, he would be held in the regard of the great all-rounders of his era, such as Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee.

When South Africa were readmitted to international cricket in 1992, Procter became their coach before becoming a Proteas selector and an ICC match referee between 2002 and 2008. In later life, Procter set up a charitable foundation for underprivileged children in South Africa. In 2016, Telegraph Sport visited a primary school in Durban benefiting from its support of Procter who explained his new purpose.

Procter passed away late on Saturday night and is survived by wife Maryna and two daughters.

“He suffered a complication during surgery and while in ICU went into cardiac arrest. He became unconscious and unfortunately never woke up,” Maryna told South African website News24.

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