Mike Procter

'I never took defeat very well'

He featured in the only two series where South Africa beat Australia at home. One of the world's great allrounders reflects on his life and times

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi  |  

Procter bowls in 1982, wrong foot and all © The Cricketer International

Obviously it was disappointing to have missed virtually a career in Test cricket. But I was fortunate to play county cricket, for the Rest of the World, and World Series Cricket - so I was lot better off than many other South Africans.

The ban helped democracy come to South Africa quicker than it would have otherwise.

We cricketers felt very, very strongly about apartheid. It was against our principles.

When I went to a ground to see matches as a kid, I was more keen on getting on the field and playing our kids' cricket than watching the game.

In 1966, Barry Richards, Lee Irvine and I were touring England as part of the Wilfred Isaacs XI. The England-West Indies series had just started. We didn't have any money to get tickets for the Test, but through some contacts we came to an agreement that we would clean the kit of the West Indies players to get in for free. So for half an hour after each day's play, we cleaned the pads and boots of the players.

Test cricket is one ball coming down at a time.

I got into my first team in school as a wicketkeeper. The next year I bowled offspin. The year after that I became a fast bowler.

Natal were 19 for 4 when I got my first first-class hundred, against Transvaal. From when I was young, if a situation presented itself, you just totally believed that you could do it and you went about and did it. I just believed that I could get runs, get wickets, win games.

Our team of 1970 was the best side I have seen.

There are always two sides to a story.

My best bowling figures in first-class cricket were as an offspinner, in 1972. We [Rhodesia] beat Transvaal with 15 minutes to go and I took 9 for 71 - I took one wicket opening the bowling and the next eight with my offspin.

Everyone tries to achieve consistency but the most consistent thing about cricket is the inconsistency. One umpire thinks different to the other umpire, one player thinks differently, the third umpire will do something differently.

We had to have the rebel tours, otherwise cricket would've almost died in South Africa.

Twenty20 is a winner. When I first read about it, I thought it wouldn't work.

Ali Bacher was the best captain I played under: he was thoughtful, he looked after players, and he just seemed to do everything right.

You've got to use technology when it can be almost exact - like a line decision, a run-out, or stumping. I would just like to see more of the third umpire used, but I don't think that will ever happen.

Oh, without a doubt Garry Sobers is the greatest allrounder ever.

I never took defeat very well. It depended on how big a loss it was.

The mark of a good captain is not when the team does well, but when the captain makes the wrong decisions, and win or lose, the other 10 guys really support him under those circumstances.

From 1970 to 1981 Gloucestershire had become my home, and I had some of the best moments of my life there. They started calling it Proctershire.

Eddie Barlow's influence was very big in the 1960s. He was the one who started making South Africans believe they could do anything.

As a bowler you can release nervous tension by bowling as fast as you can, but while batting it is a lot more difficult.

The words he uses for the picture set Richie Benaud apart. His commentary is like timing the ball while batting.

There is no such word as "never".

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo. This interview was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine