HARARE – Most of Zimbabwe’s squad at the Over-60s Cricket World Cup beginning in India this week were star-struck young boys when the great South African all-rounder Mike Procter first crossed the border into their country and recorded one of the most extraordinary feats in the game’s history.

Now, South Africa and Zimbabwe’s veterans clash in their opening match of the Masters event in India on Monday, both teams taking to the field with a great deal of heavy heart following the death of the legendary Procter, who represented the two neighbouring African countries at different levels of the sport.

Former Zimbabwean first-class cricketer Kenyon Ziehl, who is part of his country’s squad at the Over-60s World Cup in Chennai, India, was one of those local youngsters of yesteryear who will forever treasure their contact with one of cricket’s global superstars of the era.

Durban-born Procter – who died in his hometown on Saturday at the age of 77 – played Currie Cup cricket for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1970s, and is best remembered in the country for a historic achievement only associated with two other cricketers on the planet.

In the 1970-1 season, Procter smashed six centuries in a row for Rhodesia, one of only three men in the history of the game to have done so after none other than the legendary Englishman CB Fry and Sir Donald Bradman of Australia, considered by many to be probably the greatest cricketer of all time.

“We play South Africa tomorrow (Monday; at the Over-60s World Cup), so I believe it will be a very significant and emotional game for Zimbabwe and South Africa,” Ziehl told SportsCast from Chennai on Sunday morning.

“This is because Mike Procter’s legacy and remembrance will touch every player and official’s heart during the game.”

Over-60s World Cup Zimbabwe squad member Kenyon Ziehl.

Procter, a fearsome fast bowler and hard-hitting batsman in his pomp, was limited to just seven Test matches for South Africa due to his country’s political isolation during apartheid.

He was however able to showcase his all-round talents elsewhere, mostly on the English county scene, where he attained folk hero status at Gloucestershire.

But just next door in present-day Zimbabwe, Procter also left a lasting impression.

61-year-old Ziehl – cousin of the late former Zimbabwe national team player and coach Kevin Curran – has fond boyhood memories of the South African great’s stint in his country.

“Mike had a great promotional campaign with Dairibord, the (Rhodesian and later Zimbabwean) milk company, where he coached around the country at schools and touched many of us,” Ziehl commented.

“We, my era, all have been influenced and inspired by his ability and strived to emulate his prowess and sportsmanship.”

All-round sportsman Ziehl played just a handful of first-class cricket matches for Zimbabwean provincial side Manicaland but was a member of the Southern African country’s squad at the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand despite not featuring in any of their three pool games.

The most prominent player for Zimbabwe at the Over-60s World Cup in India is Eddo Brandes, the fast bowler who played 10 Tests for the country and is famous for taking a hat-trick in Zimbabwe’s 3-0 ODI whitewash of England in 1996-7.


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