In the aftermath of South Africa’s semifinal exit in the ODI World Cup 2023 against Australia, the Proteas head coach Rob Walter has vehemently dismissed the notion that his team “choked” under pressure.
The highly anticipated encounter between South Africa and Australia ended with the Proteas failing to defend their set total of 212. Despite a strong performance throughout the tournament, South Africa’s defeat sparked discussions about the team’s ability to handle high-pressure situations, with some fans and experts using the term “choked” to describe their semifinal performance.
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Rob Walter brushes aside the ‘chokers’ narrative
Rob Walter, however, addressed the media in a post-match press conference, firmly rejecting the ‘choked’ narrative. Walter stated, “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.”
Walter went on to analyze the match, acknowledging that both teams played exceptionally well on the day, and South Africa fell short in crucial moments. He emphasized the need to appreciate the dynamics of each game and the various factors that contribute to outcomes in cricket.
“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. Today, I don’t think anyone could watch and say it wasn’t through lack of effort,” Walter added.
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Walter defends Temba Bavuma
The Proteas coach also defended South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, who got out for a duck after facing 4 balls, suggesting that his on-field presence and leadership were worth gambling for despite him not being 100% fit.
“From a batting point of view, we were confident that he [Bavuma] would be able to go bat properly, run between wickets properly 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.
“We spoke about it, he said I’m not 100 per cent but I can definitely play and I want to be on the park,” Walter added further.
As the cricketing community reflects on South Africa’s ODI World Cup 2023 campaign, coach Walter’s measured response serves as a reminder that success and setbacks are inherent in the sport, and labelling a team as having “choked” oversimplifies the complexities of cricket at the highest level. The Proteas will now shift their focus to upcoming challenges with a renewed determination to achieve greatness on the international stage.
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