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In Wayne’s world 

Wayne Waleed Parnell is best known for his skills on the cricket pitch, but there’s so much more to him…  

He’s standing in his café, watching as the baristas create magic in each cup served. They’re all dressed impeccably, and one would expect nothing less as the shelves on the other side of the room are lined with garments from his latest fashion collection. This is the goal Wayne Parnell speaks of when I ask about his life after professional cricket. 

Apart from this coffee/clothing concept, he’s likely to follow his cricketing talent into a coaching career and would also like to enter the media side of it as a commentator. It sounds like he’s planning a lot, but then again, he’s been doing a lot since his cricketing career started way back in school. Let’s start there. 

At just 19, Wayne was one of the youngest cricketers in South African history to play for the national team. Someone who’s this good at something must’ve been planning it for years, right? 

“No,” he says immediately. “My first love is soccer! We had school trials on the same weekend. I was keen to try cricket out, and because I played well in the soccer league, I didn’t attend the school trials and was disqualified,” he explains. “I’m still passionate about soccer and will probably play for an over-35 club,” he says. 

Staying active is essential in his career but also a big part of his life. “When I’m not in a good space physically, I’m not in a good space mentally. They go hand-in-hand.” 

And how does he get to a good mental space? “Eating,” he laughs. “Food has been an important part of my life in that I eat ‘normally’ from time to time, instead of following a strict diet. It isn’t such a bad thing to give yourself a break,” he says. 

They (still) do 

His wife, award-winning fashion blogger and entrepreneur Aisha Baker, is a big deal in her own right. “I’m so proud of her. I’m happy she’s doing her own thing and thriving at it,” he says. 

The couple recently celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary, and have two children – son Khalid (6) and daughter Salma (2). Wayne converted to Islam a few years before marrying Aisha, and officially changed his name to Waleed (though he’s still okay with being called Wayne). 

When they’re not working or parenting, they’re either watching a documentary or stealing a moment for a coffee date. “I understand that she’s a mom and that the kids need her more now, so after the kids have gone to bed is when we spend quality time together, even if it’s just 30 minutes.” 

More than understanding that her time is often not her own, it’s her nurturing nature that attracted him to Aisha in the first place. “There wasn’t one specific moment when I knew I’d marry her, but rather seeing how she was – caring, considerate… I knew I’d want her to raise my kids,” he says. “She’s also my best friend. I can count on her for advice on my career and big life decisions.” 

Pappa Parny 

Wayne says that Khalid sometimes calls him Parny. “He’s noticed other people calling me that,” he laughs. “When I’m home, I love just watching my kids be – they’re so interesting. I’ll help them with whatever they’re busy with, like drawings or puzzles, but what I really value is being present,” he says. 

This part of his life is one of his biggest accomplishments, he feels. “I’ve always wanted to be a good father and, of course, there’s no specific way to gauge this. But to me, it’s about sharing what I’ve learnt from my dad and other father figures with my children.”

Born in Gqeberha (then Port Elizabeth) on 30 July 1989 to an electrician father and a mother who worked in a leather factory, he grew up with two older siblings – a brother and sister. Wayne says the biggest lessons he’s passing from his own childhood to his children are to take responsibility and to remain respectful. 

“From a very young age, my father taught me that I could do whatever I wanted to do, but that I would be held accountable for my actions. He was big on us treating everyone with respect,” he says. 

In their own household, Wayne and Aisha find ways to empower their children. “We teach them about how a household works: they’re given age-appropriate tasks and, to teach them the value of hard work, we’ve created a chart. For each chore they complete, we add a sticker to their name on the chart. When they’ve completed a certain amount, they receive a small reward,” he explains. “Khalid takes the lead and Salma learns by watching and assisting him.” 

Does he see this sharing of parental knowledge going beyond Salma and Khalid? “If you asked me six or seven years ago, I’d probably have wanted four or five children, but for now we’re happy with two.” 

He says that becoming a father is a major life change, whether you think you’re prepared or not. “Being an uncle or babysitting is just not the same,” he notes, and shares the following tip on providing for a family in today’s economic climate: “If you can, start saving even before your child is born, even if it’s just a small amount every month.”  

A passion for fashion 

Going into our interview, I knew Wayne had an interest in fashion, but he broached the topic before I could ask him about it when he told me he’d like to have his own brand. 

“I dress according to my mood but I do love a good-quality, fitted coat, and you can never go wrong with a nice pair of jeans,” he says of his winter style. “Comfort and practicality are high on my list when it comes to dressing.” And for updating his wardrobe, he prefers heading to a store rather than shopping online. “It’s all about fit and feel – I love being able to feel a garment and see how it looks on my type of body,” he says. 

When picking his signature scents (he has many!), he also prefers to sniff out his favourites in-store. “I like physically spraying a fragrance onto my skin and seeing how it settles. Most people follow trends but I’m the opposite; I tend to try things that aren’t super-popular, but I also generally go for offerings from the brands I already know and like.”  

Can one ever have too many fragrances, I ask? “Never!” he laughs. “I can’t even give you a number of how many I own.” 

How he chooses between them on a particular day depends on his mood and where he’s going. Affordable everyday options are Hugo Boss Elixir and Carolina Herrera; he reserves his Dior and Louis Vuitton for a night out. “I feel weird about smelling too nice when in gym clothes. I need to dress (and smell) for the occasion!” 

When it comes to skincare, his routine is basic but consistent: face wash, moisturiser and SPF in the morning, and at the end of the day a wash, vitamin C serum and night cream. 

Technically speaking 

Wayne’s first phone was an LG in Grade 8 or 9. “I stayed at hostel and the line to use the hostel’s [landline] phone was always very long, so my parents decided to buy me my own phone,” he says. Technology has advanced so much since then but nostalgia can’t be beaten. Asked about what he’d choose between a PlayStation, Xbox and arcade games, he opts for old-school (but adds that a modern update on the graphics would be great). “Arcade games remind me of my childhood days playing Street Fighter and Tekken,” he recalls. 

“I’m not really a big gadget guy – as long as I have access to music, I’m happy,” he says. His favourite tech accessories at the moment, especially when he’s travelling, are his AirPod Max and iPad. He says he uses his laptop in “little bursts” and goes from using it every day for a month to not touching it for two or three months. “Our phones are so convenient; everything can be done on them.” 

Back to his love for music, his playlist consists of everything from R&B and hip-hop to dance – and everyone from Central Cee, Burna Boy and Drake to Meek Mill and Jamaican reggae artist Protoje. “I even have nursery rhymes on my playlist,” he laughs. 

He says the songs he loves most are ones that make him feel good. Rather than being a fan of a certain artist or album, he appreciates each song as its own entity. 

It’s this appreciation of the finer details and an openness to different things that makes Wayne’s world such an interesting one. 

5 of Wayne’s faves 

1. Holiday destination: “Exploring a city. In the past, I’d have chosen a beach or island getaway.”

2. Meal & drink combo: “Definitely a good burger. I’m not too fussy with drinks – probably a Grapetizer, ginger beer or ginger ale.”

3. Sports team: “Manchester United.”

4. Family moment: “There have been so many! A recent one was watching both my kids perform on the same stage at their school concert.”

5. Celebrity: “Does David Beckham count as a celeb? I’ve also always been a fan of Justin Timberlake.”

Follow him on his socials 

Facebook: Wayne Parnell Official
Instagram: @parnygram
Tiktok: @parnygram
X: @WayneParnell 


Words by:  Shani Tsai
Photographer: Zhann Solomons
Stylist: Mia-Tess Smith