Photo Credit: SA20 League
Since returning home after a seven-year long stay in New Zealand to perform his national service as the new Proteas white-ball coach, Rob Walter has been impressed with the quality of Betway SA20.
It was not just the cricket on display, and the potential new stars of South African cricket being born, but also the transformation of the audience coming through the turnstiles now at the six stadiums all around the country.
Walter is 10 months into his new job, and has already experienced the heartbreak of a World Cup semi-final in Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, and been a beneficiary of working with young SA20 talent such as the established pair of Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee as well as Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs, Donovan Ferreira and Matthew Breetzke during this period.
It is for this reason that Walter has placed an immense amount of importance on the upcoming Betway SA20 Season, starting on January 10 in Gqeberha, particularly with the ICC T20 World Cup on the horizon next year.
“The SA20 will be very important for our domestic players,” the Proteas coach said in emphatic fashion.
Walter will have to shift his focus to the longer white-format for the moment though as his team prepare to face India in a three-match ODI series, starting at the Wanderers today with the much-celebrated ‘Pink ODI’.
With the 2027 World Cup on home soil still four years away, Walter will be looking to build squad depth as he has learnt valuable lessons since being appointed back in February.
“I don’t think, since starting the job, that the planning I have put in and the teams I have selected, has rolled out the way it was planned once. That is the nature of the beast; there’s injuries, rain outs and you still want to create an opportunity,” he said.
“If we continue to create opportunities, albeit one here and one there and we do it over a period of time, then hopefully when marquee events arrive and you need someone to step up because of injury or retirement, when that time comes that player that comes in is able to shift his game upwards, because he has 15 to 20 caps and has felt the experience of having played international cricket.”
Although Jansen filled the breach superbly at the World Cup where the Sunrisers Eastern Cape star shone with both ball and bat, Walter is keen to have a closer at some more all-rounders, hence the inclusion of Durban’s Super Giants utility player Wiaan Mulder.
“Wiaan Mulder is a seam bowling all-rounder who will be getting a chance so we can have a look,” said Walter.
“You need all-rounders. Ultimately what you want is to pick the five best bowlers and two of them must be able to bat. Then you get to balance the team any way you want to.”
SQUADS FOR THE 1ST ODI AT THE WANDERERS
South Africa: Aiden Markram (captain), Ottniel Baartman, Nandre Burger, Tony de Zorzi, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Mihlali Mpongwana, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.
India: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sai Sudharsan, Tilak Varma, Rajat Patidar, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (captain), Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Chahar, Akash Deep.