S Africa lost but did not choke v Australia, says coach Walter

South Africa could not progress beyond the last four of the showpiece event again though they played good cricket in the group stage

Published : 17 Nov 2023, 04:36 AM
Updated : 17 Nov 2023, 04:36 AM

South Africa coach Rob Walter is "incredibly proud" of the team's fight despite their semi-final loss against Australia at the 50-overs World Cup and does not think the "choker" tag applies to them.

South Africa could not progress beyond the last four of the showpiece event again but they played impressive cricket to finish the group stage as the second-placed team.

They comprehensively beat Australia in a group match last month but could not replicate the same performance in Thursday's semi-final clash at the Eden Gardens.

They could not really recover from a top order meltdown and managed a below-par total of 212, which Australia chased down with 16 balls to spare.

While a combination of bad luck and nerves stymied them in previous World Cups, South Africa fought tooth and nail this time defending a small total before Australia eked out a narrow three-wicket win.

"It's obviously gutting to lose a semi-final. But beyond that, (I'm) incredibly proud of the fight shown by the lads," Walter told reporters.

"I think 270 was the sort of total that we were speaking about, but even 250 would have proved to be a serious total there."

Australia got off to a flyer but South Africa kept taking wickets regularly to inject fresh drama into the contest and their lion-hearted bowlers simply refused to throw in the towel.

Walter was pleased with the mental fortitude of his players, who have been accused of succumbing under pressure in the past.

"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," the coach said.

"In this instance, we were behind the eight ball right from the word go and we actually fought our way back into the competition...

"So for me there's nothing even remotely close to a choke that happened out there today."

Strike bowler Kagiso Rabada could bowl only six overs because of a bruised heel, while skipper Temba Bavuma played despite not being fully fit after a hamstring strain.

Walter said the Proteas showed the right intent and he could not complain about their commitment.

"If you went into the changing room now, it'd be pretty quiet," he said.

"The guys would obviously be gutted but as I said -- what can you do but do your best and leave everything on the park for your country?

"And I don't think anyone could question that today."