Another failure at an ICC event is hard to stomach for all South Africans, including the players who were so determined to get it right this time. An awful lot of analysis on our failure to reach the semifinals of the Champions Trophy has already taken place. We have, however, instigated a full, official review to come up with the answers.
Ultimately the players have to take personal responsibility for their performances and they know that.
Critics and cynics might suggest that it wasn’t a great surprise that the Proteas made an early exit, given our record at world events, but the fact that India and Sri Lanka also crashed out in the group stage suggests that, the shorter the event, the less predictable it is.
These three nations had the strongest squads on paper, which only goes to prove that cricket is played on grass, not on paper!
I have no doubt that India will not be making any excuses, least of all the ridiculous distraction created by the tabloid media on the eve of the tournament, but they will have reasons for their failure — just as we have.
India had to do without two of their most potent match-winners in Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. A strong squad should have the depth to cover for injuries. As for us, we had not played a competitive international match for 10 weeks. We tried hard to imitate genuine match intensity in practice matches but when the tournament came along for real, we looked rusty.
The great irony for the Proteas was that, despite not playing an ODI for six months we had become predictable! Obviously the world looked at the way we beat Australia in back-to-back series at the beginning of the year and analysed our tactics and methods. Instead of giving them something different, we gave them exactly the same.
Having won seven out of ten ODIs against Australia in our last two series, we thought it was entirely sensible to stick to the winning formula. Perhaps, when the players are once again ‘battle-hardened’, it’ll be the winning formula.