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CWC 2023 | Kolkata - South Africa Coach Rob Walter post-match press conference

South Africa coach Rob Walter

[Reporter:]

Just your initial thoughts on the game and maybe just also something on the fight that the guys showed throughout when you are under the pump?

Rob Walter

Yeah, it's obviously gutting to lose a semi-final. But beyond that, incredibly proud of the fight shown by the lads. The first 12 overs of batting this afternoon was a serious challenge. And ultimately, I think that's what separated the game really, 24-4, even to come back from 24-4. The way Klaasie and David Miller batted together in that partnership. Unfortunately, Heinrich's just getting out when the momentum was really starting to turn in our favour. But then the way, again, Gerald partnered with Dave and the tail to get us to 213. Obviously short - I think 270 was the sort of total that we were speaking about, but even 250 would have proved to be a serious total there.

Yeah, on either side of it there, first ten overs, a lot less movement in the ball, a lot less bounce and obviously a very different mode of attack that the two of them bring, which we've seen time and time again in this competition. So probably the first 10 overs on either side separated the game. But yeah, just to see the way that a guy like Gerald could see a run in from the bottom end there, cramping and just putting everything on the line just to try and get the team into the game. I mean, just guys played less than 15 games to play like that. So, I mean, there was tons of positives today, but obviously pretty bummed to not get over the

[Reporter:]

We just get the old label out of the way and get you on the record to say about the lots of crunch moments where South Africa made good decisions and stayed calm and your thoughts on, let's get the old choking thing out of the way.

Rob Walter

Yeah, I mean I guess you need to define what a choke is. For me, a choke is losing a game that you're in a position to win. In this instance, we were behind the eight ball right from the word go and we actually fought our way back into the competition and put up a score that gave us a chance and then again they got off to a flyer and we fought and we put ourselves back into the game - and of course we were 30 runs or 40 runs short but still having them seven down and a couple of things, balls bouncing just short, a little inside edge that could have been taken, you know, so for me there's nothing even remotely close to a choke that happened out there today. It's a serious contest between two good teams, number two and three in the tournament.

[Reporter:]

You and Temba have had several long conversations over the course of the season and the period since you've been in charge. I saw you have another long one with him after the match tonight. Can you give us some insight as to what the two of you were sharing there?

Rob Walter

Firstly, I just told him how proud I am of him. You know he marshalled the troops this evening unbelievably well. To give and get the game close, I thought to you know strategically the way he operated along with obviously the sort of the senior heads around him on the field, the different pressures created through the field positions, I thought it was an excellent effort to defend that score but beyond that you know sometimes not easy to walk through a tournament when you aren't delivering yourself but the batters around you are but the important thing is that we operate as a unit. He was the lead man that got us into this tournament in the first place, I think people forget that 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.

[Reporter:]

Was it a no-win situation all the way back this afternoon when you won the toss? And obviously you do well when you bat first, but with a bit of rain around and different type of conditions, does it maybe think about it a little bit differently?

Rob Walter

To be honest, even the commentators that I've spoken to, no one could predict how the pitch would play like that for the first 12 overs. And had it played as we expected it to, then we would have backed ourselves to get 270. And once we got 270, because it was turning, you saw how much it spun in the evening, we knew that that was going to be our end into the game and ultimately it was really so we just didn't have enough runs to work with so - had those first ten overs looked a little bit different it's easy to say at the back end of losing, but I think the contest would have been even a touch closer than it already was.

[Reporter:]

Like you mentioned, it was actually a fascinating tactical contest, and the way Temba perhaps had to put his eggs in certain baskets at certain periods of the game. But just there in the end, a couple of people were wondering about the strategy not to bowl KG again. Was it purely a tactical decision or was there actually maybe a niggle or something that prevented him from doing that?

Rob Walter

KG had a bruised heel, that's why we didn't see as much of him in the contest as we would have expected to yeah if you're watching him on the park, you're seeing him limping around. In his comeback spell that he bowled; he just wasn't able to deliver at 100%. And obviously with that, it also led us into bringing Aiden on and Aiden was outstanding the whole way through the game.

Yeah, I mean obviously a fit and able KG has shown throughout this competition that he was one of our leading bowlers and has been for some time. So, it was a pity, I don't think it was a defining moment in the game to be dead honest. But obviously a pity that we couldn't call on him in the normal way.

[Reporter:]

You mentioned the first 10 over three, the side probably, the side of the game in your view, and bearing in mind how difficult it was to bat when you guys did this afternoon, but were you kind of a bit disappointed with the intent of those top order guys that they didn't really fire a shot?

Rob Walter

To be honest no if you’re watching and you're watching the movements of the batters, I don't think we're tentative at all. Rassie van der Dussen was across the crease, he was down the wicket. Quinton was trying to manage his way through the power play and then try to then take something on aerially and got out.

So, it's easy to say that you go out and play aggressively, but when the ball's bouncing so steeply and is moving laterally, your options are fairly limited, to be honest.

Aiden Markram came in with great intent, put a few boundaries away and then again got one that stopped up on him and ended up getting out, caught. So, I had no issue with the intent of the top four, watching the way that they were moving in the crease. 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 that weren’t missing, and they were getting some assistance. That makes it tough.

[Reporter:]

Just on Temba, he said he was sitting where you're sitting yesterday, saying he wasn't 100%. You reiterated that at the toss, that he still wasn't, and that it would have to be good enough. Can you give us an idea of the conversations you had about deciding to play him, and how much you talked about his captaincy qualities, but was there a bit of a toss-up of the risk of him playing not 100% and working out the balance of all of that?

Rob Walter

To be honest, I mean if you looked at him in the field, if you didn't know that he wasn't 100%, you wouldn't have guessed. So, in terms of being 100, I think he was pretty close, to be fair. I mean, he went through the entire week, he got better every day. And the only potential red flag might have been if something happened in the field. But from a batting point of view, we were confident that he would be able to go bat properly, run between wickets properly and if anything might not have had the intensity in the field in terms of chasing balls down that he would normally have, but he was sort of weighing that up with having him on the field present as the captain. And for me that trumps it every day, having his leadership and his presence on the field is everything. And so, we spoke about it, he said I'm not 100% but I can definitely play and I want to be on the park.

And that's the end of the discussion. I back him 100 percent.

[Reporter:]

Having sort of seen South Africa lose at knockout matches a fair amount in the past, this seemed different in that you know there wasn't like people weren't collapsing on the field in tears and it looked quite measured and grounded. Can you just talk a bit about the maturity journey that maybe the team has been on, and now you're quite proud of them, despite everything.

Rob Walter

Yeah, I can't reiterate enough how proud I am as the coach. We've played some cricket in this competition that has been world-leading, really. There's broken records. We've seen young guys, at the end of the tournament, have less than 15 games to their name, stand up and really dominate in certain phases of the game for the team. Different people putting their hands up throughout the competition and you can only but do your best, like put everything on the line on the day. Today, I don't think anyone could watch and say it wasn't through lack of effort. I don't think anyone could say the guys didn't back themselves, they didn't back each other. We've spoken about that; we've just spoken about leaning on each other in the tough times and these games bring out those moments. But throughout the game you would see guys conversing with each other, throughout the game you'd see them coming together, strategizing, coming up with a plan and then just buying into it and leaving everything out there.

So potentially there weren't guys lying down there. I think if you went into the changing room now it'd be pretty quiet. The guys would obviously be gutted but as I said what can you do but do your best and leave everything on the park for your country? And I don't think anyone could question that today.

[Reporter:]

You've got a few guys now at dressing room who will not be at the next 50 Over World Cup. We know about Quinton, people like Rassie, even though he's flying around the park tonight, like a youngster. So, you've got those guys who know that they will never go to a World Cup final. And then you've got some youngsters like Gerald and Marco, who that's still a dream that they can do that. How do you make sure, as the kind of father figure, that the good stuff from tonight's performance is passed on to the young guys?

Rob Walter

Look, it's probably thank goodness I don't have to be Quinny's father figure anymore. That's a bonus.

But no, I mean, I think what if, my take is if you think about what we've created and experienced here together over the last eight weeks or whatever it is, even starting in January to be honest, but in particular, World Cups are where you spend a lot of time together, different to bilateral series, etc. And I think if you ask everyone about their experiences, I would hope that they say that this was a memorable one. The more memorable those moments are, the tighter we are as a unit, the more excited guys get about their cricket. We've seen, as I said, guys play unbelievable cricket, probably surprised a lot of people in this room and around the world. I think that is what fuels them to come back and be better.

Personally, I'm excited. I think there's a huge scope for us to grow as a team. I think there's a huge scope for us to play even better than we have. And the majority of the people that are going to be on their journey are still in that changing room.

[Reporter:]

If I could ask you - can I have a few words or would you like to answer the question on India v Australia I mean, how are you I mean if you had to, once you over the disappointment, who do you think would make it, get the trophy?

Rob Walter

To be honest, there's about a 1% chance I'll be watching. And to be even more brutally honest, I actually don't care.

But obviously, because of the World Cup being in India, it’s always great for the home nation to win the World Cup. I've got a lot of friends in the Australian change room, so I have probably a soft spot for a couple of them, especially the coach, for them to do well. But just seeing when we last played here against India and the support that's rallied around the team, and just the great hope and inspiration that winning a World Cup at home does actually bring. I think it would only be fitting for India to win. And in the same breath, they have been the best side in the competition and they've played the best cricket but that doesn't necessarily mean that's what will happen.

[Reporter:]

Given you'd said that the first 10 overs was the big difference in the game and how close were you to bowling first and in hindsight do you think you made a mistake by batting first?

Rob Walter

Oh, hindsight isn't an exact science, isn't it?

Look, we did speak about it. And we realized there was obviously a little bit of moisture in the pitch, given that it's been undercovers. I think the groundsman would have given it a sprinkling yesterday and then the sun wouldn't have been out as it normally would so it probably didn't dry to the degree that it would have normally done.

But with that said it's like semi-final it's our strong suit, runs on the board, being able to create pressure that way, knowing that it was going to turn because it had to, and knowing that if there is a weakness in the Australian side, it is a game to spin. So, we backed ourselves and in the end of the day, like, it's hard to predict exactly how tough it played this afternoon.

Cricket, Proteas, CWC 2023, SA Captain Temba Bavuma, Semi Finals

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