Kohli among the greats: Mike Procter

Says India now has great depth in its pace attack

A formidable all-rounder in his time, an impact cricketer and a game changer, Mike Procter is among the golden greats of the game.

His Test career was cut short by the South African government’s then apartheid policies — he played all his seven Tests against Australia, knocking over 41 batsmen and scoring 226 runs.

In First Class cricket, he featured a lot in the English county. Procter, generating extreme pace, took out a mind-boggling 1417 batters at 19.53 and scored a whopping 21936 runs at 36.01.

The South African legend spoke to The Hindu in an exclusive conversation on Wednesday. What are his thoughts on a transitional South African team? Procter answered, “The side has shown character chasing down 240 against India at the Wanderers, an above par score to chase on that pitch.”

Procter added, “And the skipper Dean Elgar is a gutsy player. He knows his strengths and limitations. Somewhere his character rubs on this team.”

The South African legend added, “They are taking on an Indian team that has defeated Australia in Australia. And yet this has been a hard fought series.”

Asked about Kagiso Rabada’s 50th Test, Procter said, “He’s strong, got great stamina, can move the ball and he’s fast and hostile. He can change matches. He will play in a lot more Tests.”

Queried about tall left-armer Marco Jansen’s emergence, Procter said, “He has the left-armer’s angle and bounce. Very promising.”

Procter was sure about who the best Indian batter was. “It’s your captain. Virat (Kohli) has been a magnificent player. You can see this in the way he goes about his business. He’s among the greats.”

And Jasprit Bumrah has caught his attention. “He’s got a unique action, has bounce and movement. India now has great depth in its pace attack. Someone like Mohammed Shami is so good.”

Travelling to his playing days, Procter revealed Viv Richards, Graeme Pollock and Sunil Gavaskar were the toughest trio he bowled at. “Richards was destructive, Pollock could play you so easily and Gavaskar’s bat, he played for Somerset, was always broad when I bowled at him.”

And Joel Garner was the most challenging bowler he faced. “Garner was difficult to face with his lift but they were all dangerous, Holding, Roberts, Thomson and Lillee.”

Procter said, “I played in the era of great all-rounders, both within the South African side and outside, like Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, and Richard Hadlee. Today apart from Ben Stokes, there are no great pace bowling all-rounders around. And it is not a question of workload.”

The legend was worried about players leaving Test cricket for lucrative Twenty20 leagues. “I think the leagues are having some impact. At the same time, I believe it is hard for the cricketers mentally to stay in a “bubble” for long.”

Simply put, they don’t make them like Procter any more.

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