Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

‘We surprised a lot of people’: Walter proud of Proteas despite defeat

Walter refused to blame any individuals after they missed out on a place in the World Cup final.

Despite bombing out in the semi-finals again, head coach Rob Walter said the Proteas had no regrets after putting up a fight at the back end of a memorable showing at the Cricket World Cup.

Having won seven of their nine group stage matches, shattering multiple records along the way, South Africa were handed a three-wicket defeat in a tough playoff clash against Australia in Kolkata on Thursday.

“We’ve seen the guys play unbelievable cricket and they probably surprised a lot of people around the world,” Walter said of the team’s all-round effort at the showpiece.

While their best results of the tournament had been achieved by setting targets, the Proteas paid for choosing to bat first against Australia at an overcast Eden Gardens.

Walter admitted they had really battled to get going, on a wicket that significantly favoured the bowlers in the early stages of the match, but they had not expected it to offer as little as it did to the batters in the 10-over powerplay.

Restricted to 24/4 after a top-order collapse, the Proteas never really recovered and were bowled out for 212 runs. Australia went on to reach their target with 16 balls to spare.

No blame game

Walter, however, refused to lay the blame on the top four batters for failing to lay a foundation.

“I had no issue with the intent of the top four, watching the way that they were moving in the crease,” he said.

“It wasn’t like we were defensive and just trying to survive. We actually were trying to make a play, but it was just… you had two quality bowlers (Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood) that weren’t missing, and they were getting some assistance. That makes it tough.”

He was also supportive of captain Temba Bavuma, who recovered from a hamstring injury in time to take his place at the top of the order in the crunch clash.

Bavuma was the only batter in the side who did not fire during the tournament, and he was removed for a duck in the semi-final, which triggered the collapse.

‘Proud’ coach

Walter, however, pointed out that Bavuma had played a key role in helping the team qualify for the World Cup earlier in the year when he flaunted his form with a string of superb performances.

Speaking to Bavuma after the semi-final, Walter told the skipper he was “proud” of him for the captaincy skills he displayed in leading the side, and for his decision-making on the field.

“He was the lead man that got us into this tournament in the first place, I think people forget that,” Walter said.

“So I just wanted to make sure that he was aware of how important he is in this team and how proud I am of his efforts and the way he led throughout the tournament.”

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