Mike Procter and cricket lessons for a non-racialised South Africa

Suresh Naidoo
Chief Executive Officer
March 15, 2024
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During the Australia / South Africa T20 test, I had the honour of meeting my childhood hero, Mike Procter, one of the all-time greats of South African cricket.

I introduced myself, and Proccie was warm and welcoming.

(Photo: Pickled Stardust)
The 3 T20 tests were held at Kingsmead to mark the 100th anniversary of Kingsmead.

To summarise his accolades, Mike Procter is considered one of South Africa's best all-round cricketers. Despite the South African banishment from world cricket, Mike had cemented himself as only one of three players to strike a record six consecutive centuries in first-class cricket.

In his retirement, he remained active in the sport as an international commentator.

I asked him about the six he hit off Ashley Mallett in one of his few test matches.

It was reputed to have gone over the West stand and onto the road. Proccie said that as the years passed, the tale got taller.

"When we are back next year, they will tell you it went over the Hilton", referring to the 19-storey hotel next to the stadium.  

I met his father when I was a trainee accountant at a client where he worked as an internal auditor.

For having a famous son, he bore the moniker Proccie as well. He, too, played first-class cricket.

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Had Proccie been able to play test cricket, he could very well have gone on to break many records.

He was a fast bowler, a spin bowler when needed and an excellent hard-hitting batsman. His bowling action was most peculiar, as he bowled off the "wrong foot", leading with his right foot when all other right-hand bowlers led with the left foot.

As children, we tried to mimic his actions, but it was impossible.  

We fully supported the cultural and sports boycott, which eventually bore the fruit that helped us in our liberation. In my brief conversation with Proccie, and from some of what I have read, he was not bitter about not getting the opportunity.

He clearly understood his sacrifice was small compared to most South African cricketers of colour. This approach and mindset are needed in South Africa for meaningful nation-building.  

Photo: Vicky Adams

When we played school cricket in apartheid racially-segregate schools, we played on mat wickets.

Most were in terrible condition. There were days when the boys had to 'lay" out the mat wicket themselves before the game started. A warm-up was not needed.

This is in contrast to the bitterness of Kevin Pietersen, who blames racial quotas for why he left South Africa.

With racial quotas, particularly in the years immediately post-apartheid, the world may have known Makhaya Ntini, Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada.

Kevin Pietersen was collateral damage in assisting us in getting to where we are today.

We have yet to reach the end of the transformation process, but we have made great strides.

We need more people with the attitude of Proccie; in this instance, it's not wrong footed - It's just what we needed.