Image courtesy of: Zimbio
It was the same story of South Africa failing to fire at an ICC event on Sunday, but captain AB de Villiers is adamant that he can guide the Proteas to victory at the 2019 World Cup.
South Africa and India were both faced with a must-win scenario when they went head to head at The Oval, but De Villiers’ side woefully underperformed and were subsequently subjected to an eight-wicket thrashing, which saw them crash out of the Champions Trophy and India progress to the semi-finals.
Despite choking once again in a high-pressure situation, De Villiers insisted that there was nothing wrong with his side’s preparation prior to and throughout the tournament.
“I’m a good captain. And I can take this team forward. I can take us to win a World Cup, I believe,” De Villiers said. “I believed the same thing over here in this tournament and the last one here but that’s what I believe. I love doing it.
“We’ve covered all the bases. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve had camp after camp. And we’ve worked really, really hard on the nets, and we back each other, we trust each other, and for some reason, things like that just keep happening.”
While De Villiers conceded that South Africa put up a “very poor batting performance”, he rejected the idea that they panicked when they went from 76/0 to being bowled out for 191.
“I felt the team was pretty composed today. I don’t think we lost it there with composure. A few errors of judgement, a few mistakes out there cost us badly today,” he said. “It’s not going to do with composure in my eyes. I felt pretty calm with the team all the time. We played some good shots and then just a couple of bad, errors of judgement out there cost us.
“It wasn’t a mental thing. We just didn’t play well. Tournaments are a little bit different. You play different teams all the time on different venues, so it’s a big challenge. No one said it’s going to be easy. But we do come up short for some reason in tournaments like this, and it is pretty sad.
“I can’t explain to you exactly what happens. I think you saw it out there today. It was just a very poor batting performance. It has nothing to do with the energy or the intensity or the belief in the team. We felt we had a great chance today. We came here to win the game of cricket. And then we just unraveled as a side out there.”
De Villiers admitted that the fact he, David Miller and Imran Tahir were all run out via horrendous communication was what frustrated him the most.
“The way we lost was the most disappointing part of it,” he said. “We were really in a good position there with the batting end early on, and through soft dismissals we lost our way and that was the part for me that hurt the most.”
Instead of looking forward and trying to bounce back from their under-par showing at the Champions Trophy, De Villiers conceded that the Proteas will be licking their wounds for a while.
“I’m not thinking about the next one now,” he added. “We just sort of want to go get through this hurt now, because it’s hurting quite bad. I’ve not thought about what we are going to think about our next tournament.”
De Villiers also refused to say whether South Africa need a “radical shake-up” on the back of the Champions Trophy, where they began by beating Sri Lanka before losing to Pakistan and India.
“That’s a question that can only be answered by people who are in control of making radical decisions,” the 33-year-old said. “That’s not my decision. We’ll have to wait and see what people out there want to decide or whoever is in control of making those kind of decisions. I don’t think we are a bad cricket team.”
When asked if the Champions Trophy was a sign that South Africa are drifting further away from winning a major ICC competition, the Pretoria native said: “I must be very honest with you – not a lot of people believe me but I feel it’s pretty close. I don’t think it feels far away.
“It’s very difficult to say that after a performance like this, but that’s what I believe in my heart. I believe we’re the very close unit. There’s more than enough talent, and we’ve just got to get it right when it matters most.”