Proteas’ transformation: Tabraiz Shamsi revels in the new ‘relaxed’ culture

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi says he is enjoying the Proteas’ approach under new white ball coach Rob Walter

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi says he is enjoying the Proteas’ approach under new white ball coach Rob Walter. Photo: Abhjit Adya/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Dec 14, 2023


Gone are the days where the Proteas team existed in a fairytale world, an intense environment where the reality of life being a journey of ups and downs was not synonymous with the values of the South African cricket team.

Since white-ball coach Rob Walter has taken over, he has brought the team back to reality, to exist and thrive in a world where mistakes are not condoned, but welcomed – as long as unquestionable efforts are vividly displayed on the field of play.

Batting coach JP Duminy too is known for advocating for this type of environment that encapsulates very high standards with a sense of humanity – all for the sole purpose of allowing players the freedom of being themselves instead of them being all tense because of a rigid and limiting team environment.

It has been this new approach that has seen leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi record figures of 1-18 in four overs in the second T20 against India in Gqeberha earlier this week, and the 2-42 in 10 overs in the World Cup semi-final in India last month.

According to Shamsi, his teammates have benefited immensely from this new approach from the coaching staff and the team, and now they will look to clinch the series in Thursday’s third and final T20 at the Wanderers (5pm start).

“The way that this new Proteas team is approaching things, we don’t look too far ahead. That’s the way that we did our business in the ODI World Cup that’s just finished,” Shamsi told the media after South Africa’s five-wicket victory over India at St George’s Park on Tuesday night.

“When he (Walter) has come in, he’s made the environment a lot more relaxed. He’s made the guys just be themselves and let us have bad days. We’re human beings, you know … He’s allowed our families in big time because a lot of the guys are husbands and fathers. It is just that stuff and that happiness that the guys have in general that makes us play better.

“When it comes to training, he pushes our boundaries. Even when we have good days, he’ll always challenge us to find what we still could’ve done better.

“I’ve personally enjoyed that a lot. I think that’s why you see the guys progress a lot. It’s not always intense, but there’s always those questions asked as to what we can do to improve even more.”

South Africa are not the first or the only team to move away from the rigid methods of the past, as the Australian cricket team unapologetically moved on from coach Justin Langer, a coach that the Australian players deemed to lack a collaborative approach.

Since Langer’s exit, Australia have won the T20 World Cup, Test Championship and the ODI World Cup – proving that the new way of doing things works just fine, if not better, in this day and age.

This new approach could also see South Africa achieve big things in the future as they have in the recently concluded World Cup, where they defied the odds and reached the semi-finals, when everyone predicted their early exit at the showpiece event.

They will hope to continue on the positive path in tonight’s series decider, with the ODI leg of the tour commencing on Sunday (10am start) at the same Johannesburg venue.

IOL Sport