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Friday, 05 July 2024 14:04

Exclusive: Proteas coach Walter eyes ICC Trophy after India heartbreak.

By Louis Hobbs.

Following heartbreaking T20 World Cup final, we caught up with South Africa head coach Rob Walter who reflected on the final now having almost a week to digest the defeat.

In this exclusive chat, Walter was surprisingly upbeat looking positively towards how the Proteas now must prepare for the ICC Trophy.

"We may have lost the game in the end, but that match was a massive win for us psychologically. From 24 for four, we played outstandingly well and gave ourselves a chance, we did the same with the ball."

"That optimism is something we could feed off as a team, it restored our belief, and it shows how far we have come as a team. We will bounce back and I’m pretty sure Aiden [Markram] will be one of the first South Africans holding the world cup."

South Africa's Resilience and Optimism Shine Through T20 World Cup Heartbreak: Insights from Coach Rob Walter

Having dealt with their T20 World Cup disappointment in level-headed fashion, South Africa's cricketers have shown a mature outlook on their narrow defeat to India in the final at Bridgetown, Barbados, and are excited for the future, according to head coach Rob Walter.

India's Exceptional Performance at the Death

The Proteas looked poised to end their miserable record in world cups in their first appearance in a men's final as they reached the last five overs needing 30 runs from 30 balls with six wickets in hand.

But India was exceptional at the death, Jasprit Bumrah bowling two of those closing overs and conceding just six runs while also taking a wicket, being well-backed by fellow seamers Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh, while Suryakumar Yadav took an incredible boundary catch in the final over as South Africa fell an agonising seven runs short.

Walter Reflects on the Final and Future Prospects

"When you lose that way, it always hurts, and you think about all those small margins during the game. But you only end up torturing yourself thinking about one run here or there," Walter told SportsBoom.com upon his return to Johannesburg.

"You have to give India credit, Bumrah was incredible in the two overs he had left, he's a world-class bowler who made a big difference at the end. But I'm also very proud of how we acquitted ourselves, the guys showed a lot of resilience and courage."

"Reaching the final shows that we've made great strides as a team and I’m excited for the future. Just look at our attack and the pacemen who didn't play (Gerald Coetzee, Lungi Ngidi & Nandre Burger) – we’ve probably got seven quick bowlers who can make an impact at that level."

"And everyone said India’s spinners would choke us in the middle overs, but look at how our batsmen attacked them, they made a play and we got to parity at the back end. We won a lot of big moments through the tournament, and we didn’t do much wrong in the final," Walter said.

Markram's Leadership and Team Morale

Captain Aiden Markram handled the immediate devastation of defeat with aplomb in the couple of hours after the final. While admitting he was gutted, he spoke mostly about the pride he felt in his team and his confidence that they will fight another day.

Previous Proteas captains have left the world cup looking drained of all inspiration, their faces as glum as someone who has just had a beloved family member pass away.

"Everyone was shattered after the final, but Aiden found a way to put a smile on his face," Keshav Maharaj said.

"That optimism is something we could feed off as a team, it restored our belief, and it shows how far we have come as a team. We will bounce back and I’m pretty sure Aiden will be one of the first South Africans holding the world cup. As our leader, he is very much in command, and we respect him greatly."

Looking Ahead: Building Towards an ICC Trophy

While South Africa's part in the great spectacle of a gripping final will go down in cricketing lore, Walter believes the team is steadily building towards winning an ICC trophy.

The 48-year-old coach said the low of being 24 for four at the start of the 50-over World Cup semi-final against Australia at Eden Gardens in November last year was the genesis of their new-found belief in the big moments.

"We may have lost the game in the end, but that match was a massive win for us psychologically. From 24 for four, we played outstandingly well and gave ourselves a chance, we did the same with the ball."

"I still believe that semi-final will be the catalyst to us finally winning a world cup, and in the T20 World Cup now we just kept chipping away and clawing our way back, there's a lot of resilience in this team," Walter said.