Before turning our attention completely to Trinidad and the upcoming second Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, a final tale from Georgetown, Guyana.
Mike Procter’s presence in the Caribbean as a commentator for TWI has caused much happiness amongst locals who have been keen to embrace him either as an old friend (Proccie coached the 1992 team) or as a cricketing great from the past. West Indian cricket lovers have a razor sharp sense of history.
When Proc was approached by yet another ‘great’ from the past, former West Indian batsman Basil Butcher, the greeting was a little different, however. It was the first time Proccie and Basil had seen each other for 35 years, but let’s go back to the first meeting.
“I went on a social tour to England in 1966 with Barry Richards, amongst others, and we stayed on in England to watch some of the West Indies England series that year,” Proccie remembers with fondness.
“We stayed at the OVC (Overseas Visitors Club) and scrubbed the floors and washed the dishes to pay our rent because we didn’t have a bean. We didn’t finish washing up in the bar until 1:00 a.m. every morning.”
In order to get into the Oval to watch the final Test of the series, Proccie and Barry offered to clean the boots of the West Indian players, whiten their pads and generally keep the dressing room in some kind of order. It was hardly glamorous work but they were surrounded by international cricketers and they could watch the Test for free, so they were “as happy as Larry,” according to Proc.
Basil Butcher was a senior player in the 1966 team having played the first of his 44 Tests eight years earlier. He finished his career in 1969 with over 3000 runs at an average of 43. He recognised Proc immediately he saw him in Guyana and wandered over with his hand outstretched.
You are THE Mike Procter…?” asked Mr Butcher.
“Err, yes, that’s me,” replied Proc.
So what did Mr Butcher say next? Maybe “Congratulations on a brilliant career?” Or how about “Sorry you didn’t play more Tests?” Maybe even “You hardly look a day older, even after all these years”? No. “I just want to say you did a very good job with my boots…and pads,” said Basil, before offering Proc another rum and coke.
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