Tour Diaries: Musings of a cab driver and Ramadan in London is a long 'innings'
That was Jonathan, my Jamaican cab driver, immediately after the Barbados-born fast bowler had shocked the Proteas in the opening game at The Oval with his raw pace.
It was easy to feel the sense of pride in Jonathan’s voice about the achievements of his fellow Caribbean national.
“Me lived here for 50 years. Went to school here. But home is home, home is where the heart is. Never ever think when you away that home is not home. Me daughter keeps saying, ‘Dad how you can keep calling Jamaica home?’.”
As we weaved through the traffic from The Oval down the road to Vauxhall, I later discovered that Jonathan was in fact a handy cricketer in his time.'
“I played London Schoolboys, same side as John Emburey (England rebel tourist to South Africa in 1982). I bowl and bat before him. Left-arm chinaman, and bat No5, like Sir Garry (Sobers).
"I played in two match where Clive Lloyd gave me Man of Match. First time, I got Man of Match, someone say ‘you lucky, you lucky’. When I win Man of the Man of the Match again, I say ‘I lucky again?’ .You can’t get lucky two times’. I tried out for Surrey county, but it was not to be.”
Six years have passed since I’ve last been in the English capital, and how I have missed London town, arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the world.
This time is little bit different though. I’m spending the last few days of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month, in the UK. No stress, I hear you say.
Well, back in Cape Town, the fasting hours are from 6:30am until 5:50pm. That’s under 12 hours. Basically giving lunch a skip.
London fasting is an altogether different matter. Try getting up at 2:30am to have breakfast and then staying without food and drink until 9:15pm in the evening. That’s close on 18 hours! I regard that as some special superhuman effort.
Fortunately, the South African network has done a superb job once again on my travels. A London family, originally from Cape Town, has graciously taken myself and fellow journo Nasri Alexander in and fed us every evening.
Adilah, your steak wraps are a beaut! No Doner Kebab can compare. And Shukran for the “boeber”. Never thought that would be a London delicacy.
Having been made to feel like a local in the Ebrahiem’s home, and particularly after the Proteas' loss to hosts England, I wanted to take in some grassroots cricket.
Just how does England go about producing a classy batsman like Joe Root? What are there junior structures like? Is it the coaching? Is it the facilities?
So, off I went on the Victoria Line via the District Line on the underground all the way out to Ealing CC in Ealing Broadway. To my absolute surprise, I discovered that the head coach was actually a Capetonian, Leigh Parry, directing proceedings on a balmy Friday afternoon.
It really was impressive. Three coaches for every team. Pristine facilities. A turf square that would make Newlands envious, and complete parent support, even if it was more of a social occasion for mum and dad.
The huge turnout for the girls’ teams was also inspiring. Kudos to the England Cricket Board for making the game attractive and accessible to all.
I looked on, and wondered if - possibly bar a few handful of ivy league schools - South Africa would ever get to that point?
Right now, though, this current Proteas group needs to find a way to show the game remains healthy back home. They can only do that with a strong run at this World Cup, starting today against Bangladesh.
Hopefully next week I can tell you more about that, and more importantly about how I spent the night celebrating Liverpool’s Champions League win in the city that never sleeps.@ZaahierAdams