KOLKATA: South Africa head coach Rob Walter refused to acknowledge that the Proteas had choked in their three-wicket semi-final loss to Australia in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup.
Thursday’s result was the latest in the long list of South Africa faltering in the knockouts of the World Cup and it being termed as a choke, something which has been on them for more than two decades.
“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.”
“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,” said Walter in the post-match press conference.
He also defended captain Temba Bavuma, who fell for a four-ball duck and was not even 100% fit, for the way he’s captained South Africa in the tournament. “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 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.”
Walter signed off by saying he will not watch the World Cup final between India and Australia at Ahmedabad on Sunday, but felt it would be fitting for the Rohit Sharma-led side to win the coveted trophy.
“To be honest, there’s about a 1% chance I’ll be watching. To be even more brutally honest, I actually don’t care. But 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. 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.” IANS