Smith admits team were 'outplayed'

South Africa are in deep trouble. If they do not start digging now – and they will need mechanical diggers rather than beach spades – their carefully designed world will cave in on them.

Until four weeks ago, South Africa were officially the No 1 ranked Test side, a status for which they had lusted for years. When they were deprived of it, rather unfairly by India, who play a minimum amount of Test cricket and treat it as a diverting plaything, it became their express desire to win it back quickly.

Yet before noon yesterday their durable captain, Graeme Smith, was saying: "We were outplayed, we've got to be honest with ourselves. We represent a lot of people's hopes in South Africa and we just weren't good enough in this game. We've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and bounce back."

South Africa were cocks of the walk a year ago. They had drawn with India and beaten England and Australia, all away from home. When they were then defeated by Australia at home it seemed a mere blip, a lack of concentration at the end of a long, long year.

But it is more than that. Their bowling looks lacklustre and their vaunted batting is lacking substance in too many spots. The third Test begins in Cape Town on Sunday and however South Africa react, it will be based on calculated risk at best. They did not envisage this. To be defeated by an innings and 98 runs, to be outplayed, was not in their plans for a second.

"We haven't really lived up to the hype we managed to build up in 2008," Smith said. "As a team we reached a point and we haven't really managed to go to the next level. That's something we've got to address as a unit."

In one breath, Smith was advocating caution for Cape Town, in another he was musing on possible radicalism. It was a mood that bespoke confusion. The captain knows that had they nailed victory in Centurion last week when England were hanging on it might all have been different, but he should also recognise that South Africa's chance of a win in that Test came belatedly out of nowhere. By contrast, England were winning all the way in Durban.

At the heart of South Africa's selection conundrum is their veteran fast bowler, Makhaya Ntini. He has taken two wickets in two Tests, and is patently sliding down the other side of the mountain. South Africa must decide whether to use him as a stock bowler or drop him, which would bring another set of problems because he is the only black player in their side. A case could be made for either.

But their batting misfired horribly in the second innings at Kingsmead, wilting under pressure. Ashwell Prince is out of place as an opener, J P Duminy looks much too loose at six.

"I think Makhaya would be the first one to put his hand up and say he is disappointed with the way he has bowled," Smith said. "He comes with a lot of experience and we have given him a lot of support behind the scenes. He is obviously an important cog in our lives. Maybe our batting got a little bit tentative and we didn't commit to our shots as well as we have done." They have to commit now as never before.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'