Mike Procter - Tributes paid to 'cricketing giant' as South Africa legend dies at 77

Mike Procter starred for Gloucestershire and South Africa over his cricketing career.
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South Africa cricket legend Mike Procter has died at the age of 77, his family have said.

Procter spent 14 seasons with Gloucestershire in the UK and is a memorable figure for many cricket fans - the club has lowered its flag to half-mast until the start of the County Championship on April 5. He played seven Test matches for South Africa before the nation was banned from international cricket in 1970 because of the apartheid government.

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The star's wife Maryna told South African outlet News24 that her husband had suffered complications during surgery which had led to his passing.

South Africa won six of the seven Test matches that Procter played in. All of those were against Australia between 1967 and 1970 as the player took 41 wickets at an average of just 15.02. He was known as a fearsome fast bowler and took a total of 1,417 wickets across 401 first-class games between 1965 and 1988 - as well as a further 344 wickets in List A cricket.

Procter's honours included the Gillette Cup and the Benson and Hedges Cup while at Gloucestershire and he was voted the country's greatest ever overseas player in 2020. He also tasted success in the semi-finals of the 1992 World Cup as coach of the South Africa national side.

In 2014, the player set up the Michael Procter Foundation in South Africa to help schoolchildren reap the benefits of sport, with many involved at the Phoenix location being HIV positive, orphans and food-deprived.

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In a statement, the Foundation said: "It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that Mike died in hospital in Umhlanga near his home in Durban on Saturday 17 February. He had been in for relatively routine surgery but suffered a heart attack after the operation. Fortunately, his daughters Jessica and Tammy, who live abroad, were able to join his wife Maryna and son Greg before he died.

"My fellow trustee Adam Lillywhite and I were in South Africa only two weeks ago where we found Mike in typically good spirits in spite of health challenges. Together we saw the coaches at the new school, Solomon Mahlangu in Durban, and were delighted to see how well this is progressing. There are Mike Procter Foundation developments in the north of the country as well which we are looking forward to telling you about shortly. Mike was very excited about this tangible progress towards his vision of rolling out sports and life skills coaching to underprivileged children in South Africa.

Procter has been hailed as a 'cricketing giant'.Procter has been hailed as a 'cricketing giant'.
Procter has been hailed as a 'cricketing giant'.

"It was Mike’s wish that the Foundation supports this vision after he is gone. The trustees are committed to making this happen and do Mike proud. We hope you feel the same way. Our heartfelt condolences go to Mike’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

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

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Former team-mater David Graveney added: "Mike was a fantastic player and quite rightly regarded as one of the best all-rounders that has ever represented Gloucestershire. I don't think people realise that when Mike played he was playing through great pain in his knee, but that didn't stop him from performing at the level he did. The phrase 'Proctershire' was very apt for Mike. He put in the biggest performances in the biggest games."

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