A sucker for captain fantastic...

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Copy of ct Mohammed Cassiem 0636 inlsa Mohammed Gielmie Cassiem, who has been selling ice-cream at Newlands for 47 years, has watched Graeme Smith play cricket for 12 years. Photo: Brenton Geach

For 47 years, Mohammed Gielmie Cassiem has been an unlikely spectator at Newlands cricket ground.

He has sold ice-cream there since he was 13 years old, and some of his most significant memories are based around Proteas captain Graeme Smith, who announced his retirement from international cricket on Monday.

Cassiem turned 60 on the same day.

He says he can still remember the first time Smith greeted him and, without hesitation, stopped to take a picture with him.

Saturday would have marked the 12-year anniversary of when Smith first joined the South African cricket team.

“I was shocked this morning. I didn’t hear the news but some guy – an old man – came up to me and said ‘Mr Cassiem, your captain has retired.’ I said, ‘What! Don’t tell me lies,’” Cassiem said.

While he emphasised his disappointment that Smith, who captained the Proteas to a world record 109 Tests, wasn’t returning next season, he reflected on what an excellent player and person he seemed to be.

“I thought maybe he would stay another season and try to improve his batting,” said Cassiem. “Every time he comes in and he goes out for four, I feel very disappointed.

“The point is, I love this man. He’s a fantastic captain and helped us out.”

But Smith isn’t the only one with fans, said Cassiem.

“Everywhere I go, people love me and without those people, I wouldn’t have success … Graeme was one of them. Without them I wouldn’t be successful at Newlands,” he said.


But the iconic ice-cream salesman will now have one less person to greet for the remainder of his time at Newlands.

His only regret?

“I didn’t sell Smith an ice-cream; he’s a busy man, coming and going.

“But he always greets and talks,” said Cassiem.

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