UK Tour Diary with Myron Naicker: Horror curtain call at sport's grandest stage

UK Tour Diary with Myron Naicker: Horror curtain call at sport's grandest stage

A front row seat at the 2019 Cricket World Cup is a privilege enjoyed by only a select few.

Myron at the ICC Cricket World Cup / Supplied
Myron at the ICC Cricket World Cup / Supplied

The opportunity to travel around the United Kingdom soaking up everything this amazing tournament has to offer is something I do not take for granted. But what it also means is that I have seen the Proteas capitulate in living colour.

Real and raw, a dramatic fall from grace has left millions of fans bitterly disappointed. Some even feel angry about the whole thing, and rightfully so.

I am writing this from the Chester-Le-Street press box while watching the Proteas play Sri Lanka in a dead-rubber. Imagine, a World Cup game which means absolutely nothing for South Africa. These are the unfathomable depths the team has fallen to.

We knew that it was all but over after that harrowing defeat to New Zealand at Edgbaston, but on we went to London, as a chance to watch the Proteas play Pakistan at Lord's is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I said before the game that I was never going to let the Proteas horror show ruin my first visit to the Home of Cricket. I got a fresh cut and shave, wore a suit, and pranced down St Johns Wood Road to take it all in.

In all its glory, the cathedral of cricket is a sight to behold. As you walk through the passageways, you can almost still hear the rousing applause for Graeme Gooch’s triple century against India in 1990, Graeme Smith’s double ton against a bewildered England, and Kevin Pietersen’s 202 not out in cricket's 2000th  Test. The Lord's Pavilion is positioned perfectly afoot of the theatre stage and the slope really does exist, it is everything you have ever imagined.

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It was incredibly bittersweet. Here I was at cricket's Mecca watching South Africa’s last rites being read. Defeat to Pakistan confirmed our exit and capped off the Proteas' worst ever showing at a World Cup.

In a weird way, it was like a weight off my shoulders; there wasn’t a reason for me to wonder anymore, no motive to strain my limited arithmetic skills, trying to understand complex permutations. It was over.

Onwards to the north of the country I ventured. A four-hour long train ride brought me safely to Sunderland, 10 miles away from Chester-Le-Street.

When you think Sunderland, you think about the football club, right? So what are the chances of my hotel being directly across the road from the Stadium of Light? Bang on.

Stadium of Light / Myron Naicker
Stadium of Light / Myron Naicker

With a few days to spare before the next game, I found comfort at the Colliers Tavern. That’s where I met locals Chris and Owain. When I told them I was over for the cricket, they reacted with horror!

“Cricket, you say?" Owain exclaimed.

“We are from Wales, mate, we only care for rugby union.

“Hey by the way, South Africa had a decent rugby team a few years ago.”

Yes, Owain, there were days when we were decent.

Colliers Tavern in Sunderland / Myron Naicker
Colliers Tavern in Sunderland / Myron Naicker

Keep up to date with the latest Cricket World Cup action with Myron Naicker as he brings us exclusive updates from England. Find the latest update in the podcast channel below:

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