Off the field, Southampton made me feel very welcome

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Jun 11, 2019

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SOUTHAMPTON – Blimey, what a week!

The Proteas may not be offering up much on the field, but there has been more than enough off it too keep us all furiously busy.

The last time we spoke I was still fasting for 19 hours a days, Dale Steyn was still at the World Cup and AB de Villiers was retired. Well, I’ve now celebrated my first Eid in a foreign country, Steyn is back in South Africa, and well AB is still retired but only because Cricket South Africa turned him down for the 2019 World Cup.

The latter was an explosion that shook us all to the core. And the fall-out was immense. I felt obliged to express my thoughts on the matter through an “open letter” to De Villiers.

I have gathered that it is certainly a sensitive matter back home too, judging by the “interesting” feedback I have received. From “Who is this Adams guy?” to “Perfectly written. I would have just added a swear word, but that would not have been nice”.

Social media really is a fickle thing.

After all the “AB gate” drama, it was almost easy to forget what lovely Eid al-Fitr celebrations I had enjoyed just the day before. Nothing is like a “Kaapse Labarang”, but the community here in Southampton has really made me feel very welcome.

Zaahier Adams celebrating Eid in Southampton. Photo: Zaahier Adams/IOLSport

The highlight of Eid day is, of course, lunch time and due to South Africa facing India on the day, it was enjoyed at the ground, of course. Thanks to Cricket South Africa’s Media Officer, Sipokazi Sokanyile, in her guise here in Southampton as an ICC Media Manager, we were treated to a private suite at the Hilton Hotel with Chicken Jalfrezi and Lamb Couscous served up.

It was the first time I covered a match from the luxury of a hotel suite with the ground in full view, and certainly helped digest the fact that South Africa had just lost three consecutive matches at a World Cup for the first time a bit easier.

The strain of the defeats, coupled with Steyn returning home and the fall-out from “AB gate”, it was clear that the Proteas needed a break and time to clear their minds.

Truth be told, so did we. Having met respected Durban radio journo and football nut Myron Naicker - that silky voice that you’ve heard on East Coast Radio - here and me not being a particularly keen golfer, there was only one way we were going to spend our “off day”.

Out and about in Southampton. Photo: Zaahier Adams/IOLSport

A trip down to St Mary’s, home of Southampton football club, was duly arranged. Being a Liverpool supporter myself, I had a keen interest in the club that provided the Reds with as much as seven players that celebrated Champions League glory the previous Saturday.

The local Saints supporters don’t take too kindly to that fact though, with our taxi driver ringing off the names that have left St Mary’s for Anfield recently with great contempt. “(Virgil) van Dijk, (Sadio) Mane, (Adam) Lallana, (Dejan) Lovren, (Nathaniel) Clyne they were all here,” he said.

Only after I told him that I was South African did his anger subside, and that was only due to Terry Paine, former SuperSport football presenter and England World Cup winner, being a legend in these parts.

Out and about in Southampton. Photo: Zaahier Adams/IOLSport

The weather hasn’t been great in Southampton, like South Africa and the West Indies discovered yesterday. But at least we leave today for Cardiff hoping to leave all the rain and the Proteas week from hell behind us.   


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