Magic behind the microphone

2013-04-13 00:00

KINGSMEAD stadium manager Brett Proctor has an astute cricket brain, a hidden musical talent and a definite set of likes and dislikes.

To many he is one of the voices of cricket, covering the domestic one-day cup and T20 televised matches around the country, but he is also a settled family man, married to Lyndy and father of sons Marc (20) and Andrew (18).

He played first-class cricket in the early 1980s, turning out for Northerns and Natal A and B sides as a useful lower-order right-hand batsman and left-arm spinner.

Proctor said: “My best effort with the ball was getting six for something for Northerns B against Eastern Province B at Berea Park in Pretoria. That was before Centurion was heard of, and my best batting was an undefeated 60, occupying the number-nine spot, for Natal B against Border on New Year’s Day about 30 years ago. That was the match a certain Daryll Cullinan broke Graeme Pollock’s record as the youngest player to score a century in South African first-class cricket.”

Proctor matriculated at Northlands and went on to get a BSc degree at the University of Natal, specialising in chemistry and biochemistry. On finishing school, he had some choices to make.

“It was a toss-up between cricket and following a career as a pianist. I was a Trinity College of Music pianist and could play some heavy classics on the ivories. That got left behind and I have not played for ages, although I can still tickle the keys if I get in the mood. After 22 years of marriage, Lyndy has never heard me play. It’s on her bucket list before I leave this world,” he said.

Before becoming Kingsmead’s stadium manager just over three years ago, Proctor was operations manager at a packaging company in Pinetown for 12 years, but it’s as a commentator where he comes into his own. He has witnessed some magic moments.

“My first time behind the mic was on October 13, 1989, for Radio 2000. I commentated on the then three-day clash at Kingsmead between Natal and Western Province, where Peter Rawson made his debut.

“I was part of SuperSport’s first cricket broadcast, joining Kotie Grove at Centurion for a Fanie de Villiers’s benefit match, his 11 against Brian McMillan’s team. It was the start of a ride I still enjoy,” said Proctor.

Proctor was behind the mic when former Proteas cricketer and current Cobras coach Paul Adams burst on the scene, bamboozling Mike Atherton’s England tourists on their 1995 visit. He has done some rugby, too, but his fondest memories are from the quieter, more gentlemanly game.

Proctor said: “Without a doubt, my greatest moment in the commentary box was the 2008-09 tour to Australia, where we finally beat them on home soil. I can still see Hashim Amla hitting the winning runs at Melbourne to clinch the series for us and then the emotional moment at Sydney in the final Test when Graeme [Smith] came out to bat with his arm in plaster. They are moments that will remain with me forever.

“Shaun Pollock’s farewell at the Wanderers was another moment that stirred emotions, and I remember Allan Donald’s 300th Test wicket at Bloemfontein, when he trapped New Zealand’s Shayne O’Connor LBW. There was great anticipation for the moment and the nearby army base had set up some cannons to fire when the milestone was reached. The earth definitely shook when Donald became the first South African to reach the 300 Test wickets mark.”

These days, Proctor only does domestic cricket and he has no qualms in saying the hottest property on the field at the moment is Quinton de Kock of the Lions. “He’s your man and there is no doubt he will play for South Africa. He is being managed well and is adapting to all forms of the game, on all types of pitches. A special talent worth watching and preserving for great things,” he said.

Away from cricket, Proctor plays golf when he can, with an 11 handicap. He plays about twice a month at Beachwood and Durban Country Club with a group called The Wombats. Twice a year, he enjoys getting away to the Berg when the going gets tough.

He likes eating out and rates himself as an above-average savoury cook.

“Don’t give me cakes and puddings to create in the kitchen. My speciality is a pork fillet dish with wine, tomato, garlic, onion, and more. It’s my secret recipe, which will die with me. I enjoy braaing with mates and a glass of white wine with a good meal. I enjoy most food, but I am not a huge pasta fan.”

When it comes to movies and music, there is a refined side to Proctor.

“I am a huge Clive Owen and Denzil Washington fan. Bond is okay, but I prefer the suave era of Roger Moore and Sean Connery. It’s too violent these days. I like a thinking movie and the same applies to television. Other than sport, I enjoy British humour and clever detective mysteries.”

On the music front, Proctor is, by his own admission, “a bit of a troubadour”, favouring jazz, classical and quieter music, such as James Taylor, Adele and Boz Scaggs. “When it comes to a guitar, George Benson and Earl Klugh are about the meanest I get. Again, I enjoy thinking musicians, ones with class, who can play and sing in tune,” he said.

Proctor’s reading matter also keeps his mind active, as he devours John Grisham and Jeffery Archer novels. His best sport book he’s read is John Feinstein’s A Good Walk Spoiled, a year on the United States PGA Tour.

Yes, this is a man who doesn’t go with the ordinary in life. He loves cricket, but he is also a thinker and an analyser, and a man of great knowledge.

Start talking cricket to him and 24 hours in the day is never enough to relive magic moments or consider the reasons behind a team or individual’s poor performance through the season.

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