TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SA cricket has suffered three losses to New Zealand in the past three months – none of them on the field.
The news on Wednesday that Rob Walter would leave the Titans to coach the Otago Volts follows similar announcements involving Riaan Muller and Pete de Wet.
Muller’s four years as the SA team’s logistics manager ended after the World T20 in India in March. He has taken up the same position with the New Zealand national side.
De Wet will be chief executive of the Dolphins and the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union until the end of this month. From August 1, he will be chief executive of the Central Districts Cricket Association and based in Napier on New Zealand’s North Island.
Walter will join them in Kiwi country on September 1, having signed a two-year contract with the Volts.
Like Muller and De Wet, Walter is white. Under pressure from the sports ministry, the game in this country is in the midst of what Cricket SA (CSA) have called “aggressive transformation”.
Is Walter’s decision to leave for New Zealand’s whiter pastures linked to that reality?
“I’ve always been very passionate about SA cricket,” Walter said. “I can’t say I’m leaving for lack of opportunity; that would be untrue. I got the Titans job very early in my career.”
Walter was the SA team’s conditioning coach from 2009 to 2012 and was appointed by the Titans in May 2013. He has been SA’s most successful franchise coach in the last three seasons, winning or sharing four trophies in all three formats.
Professional ambitions, Walter said, were at the heart of what he called “a very tough decision”.
“I thought for my own coaching growth, I needed to coach in a different environment,” he said.
“Like any coach I aspire to coaching a national team and after talking to various people I realised that in the short term the Proteas job is not going to happen for me.
“I want to put myself in a position so that if it happens in the long term I will have the experience.”
Russell Domingo’s future as SA coach would appear to be in doubt in the wake of his team’s failure to reach the final of the triseries in the West Indies last month, which followed their first-round crash out of the WT20.
But any South African who has ambitions to succeed Domingo will have to get past the Cobras’ Paul Adams, who has won or shared five titles in the past four seasons, and Geoff Toyana, who has taken the Lions to four championships, or a share of them, in the same four campaigns.
Titans chief executive Jacques Faul said the Volts had done well to secure Walter’s services.
“Rob pioneered a new spirit in the Titans cricketing family,” a statement quoted Faul as saying.
“He has transformed the franchise in many ways. It was evident in the way … our top and middle order produced 22 centuries in two seasons.”
The loss of Walter to SA cricket will, in fact, be doubled: his wife, Heather Walter, is CSA’s sponsorship manager.