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
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor