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Confidence lacking in Proteas bowlers

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On Saturday, Walter said the main objective of the camp was to get the players into the groove of playing again seeing that the domestic season ended last month.

With the IPL play-offs starting on Tuesday, one of the players Proteas coach Rob Walter has included in his squad for the West Indies series is Anrich Nortje. Picture: PHILL MAGAKOE, AFP

Ongama Gcwabe

THE PROTEAS spent a whole week in camp at the Centre of Excellence in Pretoria as they are set to board a flight to the West Indies this weekend for a three-match T20 series before the T20 World Cup starts on June 1.

Before the camp, coach Rob Walter announced a provisional 13-man squad that included all the players who were part of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).

With the IPL play-offs starting on Tuesday, Walter has included three more players in his squad for the West Indies series, namely Quinton de Kock, Anrich Nortje and Gerald Coetzee.

Despite the three players having not been part of the camp, the rest of the squad members took part in two warm-up matches against a strong Emerging XI side that featured fast bowler Lutho Sipamla and budding youngsters Jordan Hermann and Andile Mokgakane.

On Saturday, Walter said the main objective of the camp was to get the players into the groove of playing again seeing that the domestic season ended last month.

“It was just really about getting back together, getting competitive, dialling in on our skills, growing confidence and self-belief in our execution, and continue working on connecting as a unit,” he said.

“Not everyone has had the luxury of the IPL in terms of competitiveness. We needed to do the bulk of our work here and not in the West Indies.”

Barring Tristan Stubbs, who played all 14 round-robin games for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, most of the Proteas players had very little game time during the tournament.

Keshav Maharaj copped only two games with the Rajasthan Royals, while Marco Jansen has seen only three games for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

However, Walter is not concerned about the lack of game time for his players and places his faith in the vast experience his players have garnered in their international careers.

“If I think of the guys who haven’t been playing, Kesh (Maharaj) never has an issue with confidence because he bowls 1,000 balls a day,” Walter said, giving Maharaj kudos for his high work ethic in training.

“Marco is also one of those guys. I feel he doesn’t necessarily have to compete to be at his best. It’s not the same as competing, we appreciate that, but I think he’s now been involved in T20 cricket enough to understand what it’s all about and to be sharp when the time comes.”

The batting group for next month’s World Cup in the West Indies and the US seems to be high in confidence with Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen having lit up the IPL.

However, not the same sentiments are shared with the bowling unit as all of the bowlers were submerged in batting carnage at this year’s IPL as T20 records were broken courtesy of the new ‘impact-sub rule’ which has allowed teams an extra batter.

This means that the Proteas bowlers might go into the World Cup lacking confidence, but Walter takes comfort in his bowlers’ wicket-taking nature.

“Statistically, if you look at our T20 success in the past, it’s based on knocking the top four (opposition) batters out early.

“That is our competitive advantage,” he continued.

“With that said, it’s everyone’s challenge worldwide to be able to manage the death (overs) better and we’re on that journey as well.

“Our bowling unit, generally, they are wicket-takers. While the economy rates are higher, they are wicket-takers by nature, so we need to keep at that.”

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