Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Proteas coach Walter satisfied despite patchy World Cup build-up

Walter says the SA squad are ready to put their heads down and prepare with the cards they have been dealt.


He admits the national team’s patchy build-up has not been ideal, but Proteas coach Rob Walter says he accepts the situation and is satisfied with the squad’s preparation ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Only eight of the World Cup players were available for a three-match T20 International series against West Indies in Jamaica last week, which South Africa they lost 3-0, as nearly half the squad were still tied up with Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments.

Walter, however, understood the need for players to fulfil contractual obligations with the world’s most lucrative cricket league, which concluded at the weekend.

‘Not our reality’

Now that the 15-man Proteas squad were together, he said they were ready to put their heads down and prepare with the cards they had been dealt.

“As a head coach the ideal is to have your players together. You have a nice lead-in, you do things the way you want to do them and you get yourself ready for a World Cup,” Walter said.

“But that’s not our reality and I’m comfortable with that. I’m comfortable with the players and the maturity they have.

“I certainly would have liked to have had the players together for a bit more time, but we aren’t able to do that, so we just get ready.”

No warm-up matches

Having convened as a full group only a week ahead of their tournament opener, the Proteas have faced a hiccup this week. Despite attempts to organise one, they are one of only four World Cup teams who don’t have any warm-up matches to prepare in local conditions.

They originally had a warm-up game scheduled for Tuesday, but the turnaround was too quick, just two days after their third and final match against West Indies in Kingston. They were also unclear in advance when all the squad’s IPL players would arrive in the US, and therefore could not commit to the friendly fixture.

“We also had another [potential warm-up] match which was shifted and changed, and then it fell away, but that was out of our control,” Walter said.

Inter-squad game

Instead, they were set to play an inter-squad warm-up match in Florida on Wednesday, and Walter felt this would be suitable preparation, giving them a chance to experiment and sharpen up as a unit ahead of their first match of the tournament against former T20 World Cup champions Sri Lanka in New York next Monday.

“We would have loved to have one warm-up game… but I’m not too unhappy because we’ve used these types of scenario-based inter-squad training sessions to good effect in the past. It allows us to shape things the way we want to,” Walter said.

“We’ll also trust our match readiness based on the amount of cricket the guys have been playing.”

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