‘The patient opener and the enthusiastic keeper’ » Cypher9ja

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Patience is a quality associated with prim and proper Test openers who are happy to go into lunch on the first day on 24 not out, and it is also what South Africa’s new Test coach, Shukri Conrad, has shown in abundance. The Proteas’ new white-ball coach, Rob Walter, has been like the enthusiastic wicketkeeper, ever full of hope that the catch will come, even though the ball is 40 overs old and has not moved off the straight for the last 90 minutes. Shukri Conrad Conrad and Walter were announced this week as the new national team coaches and,…

Patience is a quality associated with prim and proper Test openers who are happy to go into lunch on the first day on 24 not out, and it is also what South Africa’s new Test coach, Shukri Conrad, has shown in abundance.

The Proteas’ new white-ball coach, Rob Walter, has been like the enthusiastic wicketkeeper, ever full of hope that the catch will come, even though the ball is 40 overs old and has not moved off the straight for the last 90 minutes.

Shukri Conrad

Conrad and Walter were announced this week as the new national team coaches and, together with the roaring success of the SA20 competition, it has been a week of hope for South African cricket.

The 55-year-old Conrad will bring to the Test team a mixture of old-school wisdom — “be careful of Mother Cricket” is one of his favourite sayings — and his ability to get the best out of new talent.

Read more: Elgar disappointed with ‘pretty weak performance’ by Proteas

It has been a long wait for the Lansdowne product. He has been a high-level coach ever since he was appointed as the Highveld Lions’ first coach back in the inaugural season of franchise cricket in 2004. He closed out the decade by winning three trophies with the Cape Cobras.

His departure from Newlands was a shock, axed three weeks after he had brought the prestigious four-day title back to Cape Town for the first time in six years. Another quality of Conrad’s is that he is a very straight-talker and precious administrators have been known to find him too much to handle. Which is a good thing in my book.

ALSO READ: SA cricket boss Nkwe: ‘Proteas coaches will bring new energy’

Since then Conrad has coached Uganda, been chief of CSA’s national academy, been involved with the SA A team and head coach of the SA U19s. All the time, his name was in the mix for higher honours, and now his dream has finally come true.

Rob WalterRob WalterRob Walter of Central Districts will take charge of the SA white-ball team. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Walter was the strength and conditioning and fielding coach of the Proteas, but always wanted to be a coach-coach. The Titans gave him his big break in 2013 and he repaid their faith with four trophies in three seasons before emigrating to New Zealand to coach Otago and then Central Districts from 2021. He has also been an assistant coach at the IPL for Pune Warriors and Delhi Daredevils.

When he left in 2016, Walter made it clear that his dream was to coach the Proteas, but he just did not see that happening anytime soon.

‘Understand challenges’

“I’ve had three years in South Africa, which is a unique coaching environment, and I understand the challenges, positives and strengths of the game here,” Walter said at the time.

“I feel it’s time to spread my wings, growth only happens in challenging situations and I need to think about my next step as a coach. I have certain aspirations and I need to make the best decisions to reach them.

“Obviously I want to coach a national team and the first priority is my own, but if you look at the Proteas and the time frames involved, in the short-term it might not happen here.

“I hope my name would have popped up in the discussions, but I don’t think I’m next in line. So how do I grow in the next four years?,” Walter said.

And now, six-and-a-half years later, Walter’s hope has been fulfilled and he is back, full of new ideas from a country that specialises in getting the most out of limited resources, and even more experienced.

Walter’s work ethic

Walter will offer a great work ethic, driven by passion, and a knowledge of what makes a champion team, what behaviours the players need. He will work on mindsets as much as technique.

Read more: New Proteas coaches have ability to get best out of SA talent

In the meantime, cricket fans round the country have come out in droves to celebrate the new SA20 league. It shows that there are still plenty of people around who love cricket and they will support it if CSA deliver a quality product which involves the best players and is attractive to fans.



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