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It’s not rocket science - Proteas coach Rob Walter on chasing in Cricket World Cup semi

South Africa's David Miller (L) and head coach Rob Walter inspect the pitch during a practice session on the eve of their 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match against Afghanistan at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad

According to coach Rob Walter, the Proteas will know how to effectively chase down a total if they need to in their Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia on Thursday. Seen here: South Africa's David Miller (L) and head coach Rob Walter during a training session.

Published Nov 15, 2023


Much like the Springboks heading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup - winning that campaign was never really part of the plan, instead the Springboks aimed for glory four years down the line during the 2023 edition in France – the Proteas find themselves in a similar position.

When Rob Walter took over the white-ball teams, with director of cricket Enoch Nkwe at the helm, the main focus was always “vision 2027”.

Walter’s contract attests to this in that it runs until the 2027 World Cup, which will be hosted here at home in South Africa.

Despite beating defending champions England earlier this year, then Australia a month before the World Cup, there were always doubts around South Africa making a significant impact in this World Cup edition.

Defying the odds

To the nation’s delight, the Proteas have defied the odds and find themselves preparing to play a Cricket World Cup semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday.

What has repeatedly threatened South Africa’s chances of making an impact at the showpiece event is their inability to chase down targets.

“Some of that is down to just the fact that we haven’t done it a lot this year. Sporadically over the year we’ve obviously chased 10 times. We had a string of games in the Aussie series that led into the World Cup where we batted first a lot,” Walter told the media on Tuesday.

Having chased four times since arriving in India, losing two and winning just as many matches, Walter suggests that they have a better understanding of how to get the job done should they lose the toss on Thursday at Eden Gardens.

“From a blueprint point of view, we try and not overthink the idea of chasing,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of getting a few fundamentals right in order to get the chase done and one of those fundamentals is having a centralised figure in the batting unit to basically anchor the innings, which we saw Rassie van der Dussen do in the last game. And then an Aiden Markram obviously did not get the team over the line, but he did that against Pakistan.

Central figure in the chase

“Whenever we’ve chased well, there’s been a central figure there that the other batters have batted around and it’s not rocket science. I think every team will be looking to do it in a similar fashion.

“I think there is an understanding and it’s much like doing it more and more to become efficient at it and the Afghanistan game just reiterated our thoughts on how to chase and the blueprint around doing it.”

Now that the main issue has been addressed, South Africa look an imposing figure, even to the mighty Australian team that is loaded with players with vast experience in playing knockout World Cup games.

It looks promising that Walter, Wandile Gwavu and the rest of the Proteas coaching staff might do what Rassie Erasmus, Mzwandile Stick and the entire Springbok management achieved in Japan in 2019.


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