SA firmly on course for world trophy – Walter

Proteas coach Rob Walter on Thursday said his charges could hold their heads high, despite losing in the final of the T20 World Cup. Photo: ICC

Proteas coach Rob Walter on Thursday said his charges could hold their heads high, despite losing in the final of the T20 World Cup. Photo: ICC

Published Jul 5, 2024


JOHANNESBURG – From the outset when Proteas white-ball coach Rob Walter was appointed at the beginning of last year the mandate was to win the ODI World Cup on home soil in 2027.

This was once again reiterated by Cricket SA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe upon the Proteas’ arrival home from the recently-concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup yesterday.

Considering the Proteas had not reached a major tournament semi-final since 2015 prior to Walter taking charge, the New Zealand-based coach’s long-term plan is certainly on track.

Walter’s team progressed to the ODI World Cup semi-final last year, where they fell to eventual champions Australia in Kolkata, before breaking new ground at the recent T20 World Cup in the US and Caribbean where they qualified for a first-ever final.

The disappointment in not bringing home World Cup silverware for the first time certainly was evident, but there is no denying the fact that the Proteas have become genuine white-ball contenders at major tournaments again under Walter.

“The team has achieved great things in a short time. We have progressed. This World Cup showed that, you look at the small moments this team won, which in the past hasn’t gone our way,” Walter told the local media yesterday.

“There was resilience, a great skill set and we showed great versatility. The team is continuing to grow. We’ve made strides, but by no means are we the finished article.”

The trajectory has a stark resemblance to England’s path to their 2019 ODI World Cup success on home soil.

England also lost a T20 World Cup final in sensational fashion to the West Indies in 2016 before succumbing to Pakistan in the following year’s Champions Trophy semi-final.

This was the prelude to England becoming the only country to hold both the ODI (2019) and T20 World Cup (2022) crowns simultaneously.

The Proteas will be back in global tournament mode next February when the ICC Champions Trophy gets under way in Pakistan.

Under Walter, the Proteas have only lost three matches, which included the T20 World Cup final and ODI World Cup semi-final, out of 19 matches at major ICC tournaments.

“I think people underestimate the toughness of the Champions Trophy. For me, that’s as strong a competition as any,” Walter said.

“I’m hoping the progression continues. Hopefully, we keep putting ourselves in a position where we can compete, that’s the first prize.

“I said last year after the 50-over World Cup, I genuinely believed that the semi-final would be the catalyst to us winning our first world trophy. And nothing’s changed. We probably believe that even stronger now.

“But I still believe South Africa will have to win a World Cup for everyone to stop talking about choking. I haven’t seen [choking] with this team. We won big moments in the [ODI] World Cup and big moments in this World Cup.

“We will continue to do so, but there will also be times when we don’t win those moments, because sport is sport.”

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