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August 31, 2004
After Sri Lanka completed their 5-0 whitewash in Colombo, both captains spoke to the press, along with South Africa's disappointed coach Eric Simons:
On today's game
This morning we wanted it to be 5-0 because we know how it feels. When we were in South Africa and were 4-0 down we were desperate to win at least one game, and we managed to do that. We didn't want to give them that little bit of confidence. We knew how down the side would be, and how desperate they would be to get that one win. We knew we had to pick up our game and not be complacent. The guys did a brilliant job, the batters especially. They built partnerships and rotated the strike well. To put up 300 on this track was a brilliant performance. The spinners did a good job at the end.
On whether Sri Lanka would have batted
History favours the side bowling first [at the Sinhalese Sports Club] but we wanted to bat first. There was a little bit of moisture, so we had to survive the initial stages, which Sanath [Jayasuriya] and Saman [Jayantha] did brilliantly, but I have played here for seven years and have never seen this pitch so dry.
Kumar has been brilliant all series. He did the job he was asked to do by the team. With Marvan [Atapattu] not there he needed to bat through the innings. Others just chipped in.
On Atapattu's absence
Marvan's absence did not affect the team really. He came for the team meeting yesterday and spoke to the guys. He was in good spirits, and our thoughts are with the kid. I believe she is much better.
On the Champions Trophy
Confidence-wise it's great to finish here with a win as we did not want to go there after losing a match. It's a good habit to go there with a winning team. We couldn't ask for anything else. The whole team is clicking together and everyone is contributing. Hopefully we can continue this form into the ICC Champions Trophy which is an very big tournament for us.
On Upul Chandana
Upul has been bowling brilliantly in the last six months, especially in Murali's absence. He has put his hand up, and said that I can handle the pressure. His line and length is not as consistent as some of the other guys, but you have to give him the credit that he's going to pick up a lot of wickets for us. He is the guy who will come and get that wicket for us at a crucial moment.
On today's game
In some areas it was a better performance - I thought we fielded well - but it was a 280 wicket at most, and we would have cruised home if we had restricted them to that. But 300 is always tough, because you have to keep taking risks throughout the whole innings and there is always the chance of losing wickets. We decided that we were going to chase today. We believe the side is better suited to chasing. But chasing 308 is always going to be difficult. If we had kept the rate down to between seven and eight runs per over the new guys coming to the crease would at least have had a chance of knocking it around. I thought Jacques Kallis played superbly and Jacques Rudolph played a good foil around him, but at some stage there we really needed a big over to get the rate down.
Overview of the tour
In some ways this heavy loss is maybe not so bad down the line if it gives us a clear direction of where we need to go and what we need to do. It gives us a chance now to strategise and move forward. As a very proud sportsman from a proud sporting nation it is obviously very disappointing to go down in the way we have. But in some ways maybe it was something that needed to happen, to let us hit rock bottom and really strategise and go forward now.
On Sri Lanka's performance
There were a couple of games where the basics let us down, we dropped a few chances and didn't bowl well in the first game when we should have defended 260-odd. But having said that their batters came in and played really well under pressure. Kumar and Jayawardene were superb in the middle the entire series. Their batting line-up is not very long with [Tillakaratne] Dilshan at 6 and Chandana at 7, but the calm manner in which those two have played allowed them to chase and set targets well.
On the Champions Trophy
In England the conditions will suit us a lot more, and we will be facing a lot more seam which is more second-nature to us. We go home now for three days and it is important that we regroup and when we join up in England we have a real strong game-plan. We have got to pick ourselves up very quickly for our first warm-up game against Pakistan. We need to have our minds and a strategy in place by the time we arrive, and take it game by game, hopefully moving through the competition.
On the tour
It is pretty depressing as we are a proud team. The guys have given their all. We have been honest and open and really tried to find solutions, but there are only so many controllables one can look at. It has been disappointing, but as sportsmen you cannot afford to get down. You have got to be up for the next challenge. I still believe that this team is very talented and that we can go to the Champions Trophy and turn things around.
On the lessons learned
When you go through a series like we have it is a time to re-look at things. Maybe we have been too predictable in the way we have played in the last four or five years. It is perhaps time to re-strategise and look at things going forward. Charl Langeveldt came in and did well, and maybe we need to throw the net wider. Sri Lankan cricket has done that, and done it very successfully with some good young cricketers coming through who are doing the business.
On Sri Lanka's performance
A lot of credit should go to how the Sri Lankans have played throughout this series - they have played some very good cricket. We have had them under pressure once or twice and every time someone has come to the party and they have come through.
On whether South Africa brought their best-balanced bowling attack
Two teams can look at the same problem and come up with two solutions. There was a wide-ranging discussion before the tour, with the selectors and the management, about how we were going to approach things and we thought we had the right attack here - but the execution wasn't perhaps as good as it should have been.
On the turning-point of the tour
I think perhaps the first day of the second Test was the turning point for us - we really didn't play well.
On the loss of Andre Nel
The injury of Andre was a big blow for us. He did well in New Zealand and he would have added a new dimension to the attack. We would have really liked him to be here.
On the growing pressure on his position
There was pressure when I was appointed into this job and there will always be pressure, and I know that I am going to go back to some kind of storm back home. You look at the man in the mirror and, if I have done my job and everything I can do, then that is all the team can ask from me. There is pressure on me but that is one of life's challenges, and it is a challenge that I accept.
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