UK Tour Diary with Myron Naicker: Smiling faces, retired folk and the smell of the ocean

UK Tour Diary with Myron Naicker: Smiling faces, retired folk and the smell of the ocean

The cawing seagulls let you know instantly that you’ve reached the coast. As my train arrives at this historic port city, I am reminded of Durban for a fleeting moment. The air is warm and sticky, the energy relaxed and laid back, and there is plenty of smiling faces.

Myron in the UK / Supplied
Myron in the UK / Supplied

Hello from Southampton, 100km south-west of London. I have been based here for the past week hoping that a change of scenery would help the Proteas reignite their World Cup campaign. That has not quite happened yet, but still a glimmer of hope remains.

The main mode of transportation is the bus here and I was lucky to meet a man at the stop who was kind enough to help me. Lee was waiting outside the supermarket for his wife and he showed me exactly which bus I needed to take to get to the Hampshire Bowl, where the Proteas were holding a training session ahead of their clash against India.

Now in his mid-sixties, Lee wore a big smile, a jovial 'ballie'. 

“I don’t work no more, you see. Me chest is all stuffed from working at the docks, asbestos you see,” he said.

So the government pays him close to 900 pounds (approx. R18,000) as a disability grant of sorts. He also lives in a council home which is paid for along with his rates.

“You count your pennies sometimes, but we are alright.”

READ - Chris Morris: Stranger things have happened at the World Cup

Man is chilling, if you ask me. 

After watching the Proteas lose to England and Bangladesh at the Oval, there was a hint of anxiety ahead of the match against Virat Kohli’s team. We were greeted with beautiful sunshine on Wednesday morning and a feeling that this was the perfect opportunity for South Africa to turn their campaign around.

As I waited for the bus to head towards the stadium that morning, I met two New Zealand supporters who were also going to the game. They were a bit lost and since I was now an expert on how to get around the city, thanks to Lee, I happily showed them the way.

Dave and Ros were also retired (I know, right?) and flew in from Wellington for the cricket. We spoke about the city and rugby, of course. They were looking forward to the game but their thoughts were with their beloved Black Caps who were playing Bangladesh in London, a match they couldn’t get tickets for.

I could tell their hearts were sore because it was the first time New Zealand would play Bangladesh since the terror attack in a Christchurch mosque in March. The Bangladesh team were arriving at the mosque when shots were fired. On that Wednesday, Muslims around the world were also celebrating Eid, adding greater context to the day. In times like these, sport has this incredible ability to bring people together.

Almost two weeks into my journey here and it was time to do some washing. My search for an affordable laundromat landed me in a West Indian quarter of the city. After almost 30 minutes of walking I was completely lost and asked two locals for directions. They gladly helped but before I left, one of them asked me if I had a spare cigarette. Here I was, a millions miles from home, being bumped for a 'skyf'.

It’s a small world, 'innit'?

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

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