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August 23, 2004
South Africa are having a decidedly bad time of it in Sri Lanka. After an ordinary performance in the second Test, which they lost by more than 300 runs, they have lost two one-dayers on the trot. Graeme Smith did his best to work out the reasons for their defeats, while Marvan Atapattu enjoyed that winning feeling:
On South Africa's performance
I don't know how much more hard work we can put in, we just didn't play good enough. We were superb in the field today and bowled well at the death, and 213 was a score that we should have got. It definitely wasn't a wicket in which we should have been 40 for 6. Nuwan Zoysa bowled well, putting the ball in the right areas, but there were a couple of loose shots and I don't think we should have been 40 for 6. At the moment, as an allround team, we would be lucky to be called club cricketers. The intensity is there now but we are letting ourselves down in crucial phases of the game with stupid mistakes, either in the bowling or the batting. We are in a hole and as a team we have got to get ourselves out of it now.
On whether South Africa can bounce back
Things can change around very quickly. Once we win on the rest will come. The guys have got to look inside and find it - you can't be fed like a baby all the time. This is the time now that we need guys to stand up and be counted. We are playing bad cricket, but deep down inside I know what we can do, and we have to start doing that and performing to our standards. We know how quickly things can turn around. We can win the next three here and the Champions Trophy, and everything is all rosy again.
On Herschelle Gibbs's form
Hersch is struggling. He has been working hard - yesterday he was hitting throwdowns for an hour - but he is in a hole, and he won't be happy looking at his shot today.
On Eric Simon's position as coach
The team ethic is very strong at the moment. The things we have got in place are very professional. We can't fault Eric on anything he has done. He is probably feeling a bit frustrated at not getting the rewards after everything has been put into place. He has always said he is accountable for not getting results. It is now up to the team to stand up and do something for the coach.
On the team's performance
The guys were 2-0 down in Pakistan and we came back from that. The guys are definitely now down and out. It can turn around quickly. It takes one win and you can get the confidence back. In the same way that Sri Lanka are winning and everything is going their way, everything is going against us. We have put in the hard work, mentally and physically. It is not that we are under prepared. The coach and the support staff have done all they can do, and it is now up to the players to start producing the goods.
On Sri Lanka's secret
We are not doing too badly at the moment and I hope that will continue. I would be hesitant to mention any one person's name - this has been a team effort. We had a plan going onto the field and that worked.
On Zoysa's performance
To get five wickets on a pitch like that was extra-special. This is not the first time he has performed: in the Asia Cup he won two games almost single-handedly.
On Tillakaratne Dilshan's improved bowling
He is a talented guy all round. On pitches like this he will give that extra bit of cushioning in the bowling department.
On his five-for, and his wedding plans
We just wanted to come and win and I did not even think about the wedding today. It was a difficult pitch to bowl on and I needed to use all my variation, which I did well. The guys caught well too. I hope I can continue with the same form.
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