IOL Sport cricket writer Zaahier Adams.

A lot has happened since my last tour diary.

Obviously by now we all know that the Proteas’ continued participation in this World Cup is purely academic.

Even a consolation victory at a surprisingly sunny Chester-Le-Street was not able to salvage an utterly disappointing campaign.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis rightfully termed it a “hollow victory”.

I prefer to take in the small blessings, such as my Lord’s visits last week.

I have been to the ‘Home of Cricket’ before, but every time you walk through the Grace Gates, there is a special feeling that consumes you.

I even dressed for the part, suit and tie, hoping to possibly sneak into the Members’ Pavilion.

But to no avail. “You are not allowed in there sir,” was the courteous but firm response from the guard at the door. I was not, though, going to let him spoil my experience.

With South Africa playing Pakistan, Lord’s ditched its upper stiff lip just enough for St John’s Wood to be transformed into Lahore.

There is nobody that generates the amount of noise ‘The Stani Army’ do – and that includes India’s fanatical fan base.

They are all revved up by ‘The Dicator’, ‘Hulkistan’ and the ‘Sheikh of Pakistan’, where the reverberations could be felt through the grand old walls every time a South Africa wicket fell.

Often press conferences can be a drag, with players and officials singing the same old tune, but the Lord’s presser was pure entertainment.

After Du Plessis’ grilling was concluded, Pakistan mentor Mickey Arthur took centre stage.

The former Proteas coach is an emotional man at the best of times. He lives every ball with his team, often seen gesticulating on the balcony after every catch or misfield.

There’s also the big fist pump celebrating anything in favour of Pakistan.

It was with this same enthusiasm that Arthur launched into a verbal attack on a Pakistani journalist who had the temerity to ask why Haris Sohail was exhausted after his match-winning innings.

“I thought you were saying something positive about Haris,” Arthur grizzled. “He got 80 from 59 balls today. Is that right, or did I miss something? Why are you always talking negatively about our players?

“His innings today was one of the all-time brilliant innings’ that I’ve seen. Let’s just write something positive for a change, please.”

Arthur was not done yet. He gave the headline-seekers something real to sink their teeth into when he said: “Last Sunday I wanted to commit suicide,” referring to his emotional state after Pakistan’s loss to India.

Considering Pakistan’s history with coaches dying in controversial circumstances after World Cup defeats – re: Bob Woolmer 2007 – it was a ballsy thing to say.

I just had to come back for more. So, two days later, I made my way back to Lord’s – again in my Sunday best.

This time, though, it was hosts England v Australia. The local media billed it as the “Mini-Ashes” in the build-up to the events still to come this year, but in fact, it was much more than that.

After being touted as tournament favourites, the knives were now firmly out for Eoin Morgan’s team after the loss to the Aussies.

The tide has turned, and Morgan even had to explain that he was not scared of Mitchell Starc.

The Proteas’ troubles have been well-documented, but watching England unravel at a rapid rate here has given me a sick sense of pleasure.

I’m back in London this week for something altogether different.

It’s still about games played with small balls, but hopefully watching “America’s pastime” when the New York Yankees face the Red Sox on foreign soil for the first time will be far more exciting than watching the Proteas’ World Cup campaign come to a drab end in Manchester.


Weekend Argus

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