Gqeberha – Proteas limited overs formats coach, Rob Walter has been keeping a close eye on his players in the Indian Premier League and says they planned to use this tournament as an opportunity to prepare for the World Cup.
In a World Cup year, any competitive cricket is hugely important and that makes the ongoing IPL even more important for all players competing as most of them will return to India in October for the 50-over World Cup.
In South Africa’s case, a number of key players have missed out on most of the IPL action in the past seven weeks.
Proteas shorter formats head coach, Walter says he is not concerned that those players are not playing as many games and that he is happier they are in competitive environments especially in a World Cup year.
“Obviously you’d want them to be playing but we’ve made a considered effort as a playing group and the coaching staff to utilise the IPL as an opportunity to grow,” Walter told IOL Sport.
“I know these guys will be very hard at work on their games in the background. Ultimately you get to practice on these facilities as well, it’s not as if they totally lost by not playing.
“Before we left for the IPL, we made a point of identifying these eight to 10 weeks as a great opportunity to get ready for the World Cup,” he added.
A notable absence from the IPL for the Lucknow Super Giants this year, was that of Quinton de Kock who had to wait over a month into the competition to play his first game.
In contrast, one of the best performers in Walter’s One Day International team, Heinrich Klaasen, has been one of the few who are regulars in their teams.
Klaasen has been in incredible form in the IPL and his game plans to spin bowling have grabbed the attention of cricket lovers around the world.
Walter suggests Klaasen is reaping the rewards of all the hard work he has done on his batting while waiting for his time in international cricket.
“He’s just carried on his form, hasn’t he? It’s been awesome to watch. The guy has worked very hard on his game. He’s now standing up to be a quality international cricketer.
“Seeing him do it against different opposition in conditions that we are heading to is very exciting. Long may it continue.
“It’s just an acknowledgement of the work he’s put into his game and he’s reaping the rewards now.
“I’ve watched all the IPL games that had our players involved and have seen the way he’s gone about his business.
“The role that he will inevitably play for our team, he is getting to do over and over again in the IPL. So, the benefits for us as a playing group is huge.”
The IPL and all the other T20 leagues prior to the World Cup will aid South African players to hone their skills and stay sharp.
Walter says they have a number of camps in place for the guys who are not involved in the T20 leagues.
Most importantly, Walter is pleased by the fact that three-format players such as Kagiso Rabada will get some much needed down time this winter.
“We have a number of camps planned for the winter one of which is happening at the moment in Pretoria,” said Walter.
“The core group of players has been very active. Giving them some time away from the game is actually going to be vital, so that is a huge benefit.”
Most importantly, Walter and his team need to perfect their new playing style before the World Cup.
The five-match ODI series against Australia in September will be South Africa’s last chance to put their blueprint to the test before the World Cup begins in the following month.
“If you think about it, we’ve only really played six games of cricket with our attacking blueprint in mind. That’s not a lot considering it took England four years to master theirs.
“So, we want to spend our time conversing and practising what that looks like in reality when you’re out in the middle and we don’t have a lot of games to do that.
“But our camps will be specifically targeted at growing that understanding and awareness and then having us ready to fire against the Aussies,” said Walter.