Caribbean conditions will dictate any Proteas changes, says coach Rob Walter

PROTEAS opener Reeza Hendricks got a first-ball duck against Bangladesh, but may be given another chance against Nepal on Saturday. Photo: AFP

PROTEAS opener Reeza Hendricks got a first-ball duck against Bangladesh, but may be given another chance against Nepal on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 13, 2024


THE Caribbean region is renowned for its knowledgeable locals. Everyone’s an expert on the game of cricket, whether it’s the taxi driver or the men excitedly playing dominoes on the street corners.

The Proteas seem to have taken this to heart, with coach Rob Walter leaving no stone unturned on their arrival in Saint Vincent and Grenadine for Saturday’s World Cup clash against Nepal (1.30am SA time start).

“Our bus driver, when we arrived here at 3am in the morning, told us when the sea is rough, there is pace and bounce, and when the sea is calm, it spins,” Walter told the media yesterday from Kingstown.

“So that was a nice bit of information. We gather it from wherever we can.”

Seriously, though, Walter and his management team have done extensive research on the conditions expected at the Arnos Vale Ground as they are in regular contact with Donovan Miller, who was head coach of the Jamaica Tallawahs and assistant coach at St Kitts and Nevis Patriots when they won the Caribbean Premier League in 2021.

Miller has a long-standing relationship with South African cricket after also being part of the Jozi Stars coaching staff when they won the inaugural Mzanzi Super League.

“We have a few guys here that we speak to. We obviously connect with the groundsman, and also Donovan Miller, who was with us during the West Indies series in the lead-up to the World Cup,” Walter said.

“We lean on him a little bit from a surface point of view as a guy who has done his trade here on the T20 circuit here in the West Indies.”

Walter is certainly hoping all this intel will help his top-order batters acclimatise quickly after their troubles on a tricky surface in New York.

It is likely for this reason that despite the Proteas already having the assurance of qualifying for the Super Eight – essentially rendering the Nepal game a dead rubber – Walter remains less inclined to give his entire substitutes’ bench a run-out on Saturday.

— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) June 11, 2024

“We’ll not make too many changes, unless the conditions tell us to do that,” he said.

“Obviously it was a tough outing for the top order in New York, so we don’t want to change too much there.

“We want to allow guys to hopefully play on a better surface.

“We still have areas in our game we want to improve, and get some consistency there. Conditions will dictate.

“I think you have to be realistic. As a batter, you can only do what you can.

“The guys have been working hard on their games to stay in touch. This is a funny game, where just one shot can change everything.”

Opener Reeza Hendricks will be grateful to hear that his rope may be lengthened, with back-up batter Ryan Rickelton eagerly waiting in the wings for his T20 World Cup debut.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 12, 2024

The most likely change to the starting XI that played all three matches in New York could be the inclusion of left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi alongside Keshav Maharaj.

Walter will certainly have a conundrum on his hands in terms of which paceman to bench in order to accommodate the two-pronged spin attack.

All four seamers were exceptional in New York – aided by a helpful Nassau County surface – and anyone would regard themselves unfortunate to be missing out.