South Africa's Hashim Amla has been struggling for runs at the World Cup. Photo: David Davies/PA via AP
A visit to the barber is usually the first sign that you’ve been on tour for a while. This week it was my turn.

Not one to frequent the salons in the malls, preferring the experience of an authentic barbershop, I made my way to Grangetown, just south of the Cardiff City Centre.

A former local Welsh working-class area, with terraced-housing, Grangetown is now on the rise, having been transformed into a multi-social area where kebab shops and vegan cafés now co-exist.

Sitting down in the chair at “FreeStyle”, I expected the usual questions like “Where you are from mate?” and “What brings you to Cardiff?”.

What I didn’t expect, though, was that my response would incite “Why your is your team so crap, mate?”

That was met with shrieks of laughter throughout the barbershop. Yes, so it's not only the Proteas players that are abused, but also a travelling South African journalist too.

“Ahmed”, the guy cutting my hair, really enjoyed the banter. Having lived in Cardiff for 40 years since moving from Karachi, he loves his cricket too. And watching South Africa, “who were always very good”, take a pounding here has really made his day.

I promised him South Africa would get better, and beat Afghanistan to kickstart the campaign. He wasn’t that hopeful, particularly with the copious amounts of rain that has fallen.

The weather really has been a talking point at this World Cup. Three matches have been abandoned the past seven days, including South Africa’s clash against the West Indies in Southampton.

It is the most amount of matches ever at a World Cup, eclipsing the amount at the 1992 and 2003 events. It has been so bad that ICC Chief Executive David Richardson had to put out a statement on why no reserve-days have been set aside for the group matches here.

It certainly has rained a lot in Cardiff since I arrived. A steady shower has greeted us every day. It has kept the Proteas indoors mostly this past week, although there was a brief period of respite that allowed the players to train under lights in preparation for the Afghanistan fixture.

Locals, though, are keeping an eye on the weather this weekend for an altogether different reason. Sir Elton John is in town for a once-off performance in Cardiff and there is a great concern that the sold-out concert may be rained off.

That would be particularly disappointing for at least two people. Former Star Night Editor and Men’s Health SA Editor Ridwaan Bawa and his wife, Shihaam, surprisingly popped into Cardiff on a whirlwind two-night stay just to see the legendary pianist and song writer. Bawa, who now lives in Qatar, rang me up and was thoroughly enjoyable to catch up over a fine Turkish dinner at Saray chatting about all things Indy Media.

Armed with Qatari Riyals, dinner was of course on the Bawas for the evening. I responded by “organising” some tickets for the game, before the concert gets underway in the evening.

As we departed, he was convinced South Africa would still be standing, and that sun wouldn’t go down on the Proteas at this World Cup. I am just praying the sun comes out!


IOL Sport

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