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'We let ourselves and South Africa down'

Last updated on: March 26, 2011 14:56 IST

'We let ourselves and South Africa down'


Bikash Mohapatra in Mirpur

It is the toughest job in the world, to explain a failure that is!

But Graeme Smith has probably got used to it over the years.

- Scorecard  Images

Ever since taking over the South African captaincy following the 2003 World Cup, the 30-year-old has seen his team flatter to deceive on many occasions.

Friday was the latest.

Favourites going into their World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand in Dhaka, South Africa stumbled to a 49-run defeat.

Not that it surprised many -- the Proteas have held the chokers' tag ever since their return to international cricket.

Image: Graeme Smith is grim faced after South Africa lose to New Zealand
Photographs: Getty Images

'New Zealand was better than us'

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However, it was again up to Smith to do the explanation bit.

"It is so hard to describe," he said, admitting the media interaction was too soon for him to find the right words to explain South Africa's capitulation.

- World Cup coverage

"It is kind of disbelief," continued the captain, adding, "I thought we had what was required to win this match.

"Unfortunately, we didn't.  

"New Zealand was better than us on the day."

Image: Jacob Oram celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Graeme Smith

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'We needed to show more composure'

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He was categorical about where it went wrong for his team.

"221 was a reasonable total to chase and at 100-odd runs for two, we were in the game," explained Smith, adding, "Then came those crazy five-six overs.

"I mean we bowled well enough to win but the batting let us down, especially in those five-six overs."

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Smith's reference was to the period between the 25th and the 33rd overs when South Africa lost Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy, AB de Villiers and Johan Botha in quick succession.  

"We didn't score freely after Kallis got out," continued the captain, adding, "We needed to show more composure.

"We didn't and it was difficult to recover thereafter on a surface like this."

Image: Faf du Plessis (L) of South Africa and New Zealand's Scott Styris pretend to kiss and make up after an altercation following the run-out of A B de Villiers

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'This jinx has been going on since 1992'

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Smith though was not critical of his team. Instead, he lauded them for their efforts.  

"We trained hard and gave it our best shot," he said, adding, "We had committed to all our skills.

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"I cannot fault the team.

"But the fact is we have let ourselves down and there is no excuse for that."

South Africa's captain expressed hope that his team's jinx in ICC tournaments would end in the near future.

"This jinx (of premature exits) has been going on since 1992," he admitted, adding, "Hopefully in the future the players will be able to go all the way and South Africa will win the World Cup."  


Image: Imran Tahir celebrates with team mates after claiming the wicket of Jesse Ryder

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Smith did the explanation bit for the final time

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He proceeded to answer a few more questions with a dignity befitting his stature. He was clearly not at ease though.

But, mind you, he was doing the explanation bit for the final time.

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Now that South Africa's World Cup bid is over so is Smith's tenure as captain -- he had already declared his intention to step down following the event.

So the next time the Proteas go home from an ICC tournament early, at least Smith will be saved the blushes.

Then, it will be up to the next captain to do the toughest job in the world -- explain a failure.

Image: Johan Botha and Graeme Smith celebrate the wicket of Martin Guptill

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