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Proteas hoping to have captain Temba Bavuma back with the team ‘early next week’

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The Proteas have not even begun their ICC Cup campaign in earnest, and already coach Rob Walter is having to keep his team focused solely on the job at hand due to captain Temba Bavuma returning home.

Bavuma officially left India on Thursday due to “family reasons”, but Walter was unable to provide any further information on his skipper’s unavailability for the next week.

“It is a personal situation. We are just looking forward to him coming back. There is nothing wrong with Temba personally,” Walter told the media via a zoom call yesterday afternoon.

“It is still early days in this Cup campaign. A guy like Temba has played a lot recently and played very well.

“We are hoping to have him back early next week, with the impact on the team negligible.”

Bavuma missed yesterday’s wash-out against Afghanistan and will also be unavailable for Monday’s final warm-up clash with New Zealand.

Although Walter expects his skipper to return for the opening Cup tie against Sri Lanka next Saturday in Delhi, it is not the ideal preparation heading into a major tournament.

It is often during circumstances like these where the team management need to keep the players mentally motivated in order to not lose focus.

The appointment of former Stormers rugby mental conditioning coach Tom-Dawson Squibb as the Proteas Performance Coach is therefore pivotal during times such as these.

Ironically, Dawson-Squibb is also currently back in South Africa due to the birth of his child, but will join up with the Proteas soon in India.

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Walter is certainly pleased that he can call on Dawson-Squibb’s expertise.

“He (Squibb) understands what we are trying to do both in language and action. He is great at keeping us on track there,” Walter said.

“He has made some nice connections with individuals. They can lean on him if need be – and then an overall assessment of where the team is at.

“It’s great to have someone who has tipped his toe in the water from a cricket point of view, but also has extensive experience of high-performing teams in the rugby space.

“It is nice to have a fresh lens. We are all trying to achieve the same thing, and it’s good to just have a different view at times.”

Walter is hoping that the Proteas can take the field against the Black Caps on Monday, especially for the bowlers to have a run before next Saturday’s Cup opener.

“We’ve had three excellent days of training. But it is never great missing game-time. We are fortunate that we have played recently.

“I think we are in a good position. We would have loved to had a run out, but hopefully we can get one in two days’ time,” he said.

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