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September 29, 2009
South Africa's "deeply disappointing" first-round exit from the Champions Trophy has left its board chief executive Gerald Majola seeking answers from the team's captain and coach. Majola confirmed that neither Graeme Smith's nor Mickey Arthur's jobs were in danger but has called for a meeting to find out the reason for another woeful performance in a multi-team tournament.
"There are some hard questions to be answered," Majola said. "At no stage did the team look anything like a team who are the World No.1 in both Tests and one-day internationals. They certainly were way off where they should be at this stage and I will be speaking to Mickey and the team management to find out what went wrong."
Arthur and Smith are not in line to be fired from their roles but Majola questioned the team's performance. "That [sacking them] is not going to happen but we definitely want answers," he said. "The team's performance in this tournament was just not good enough. I don't want to pick out individuals but there were problems with the bowling and the batting and the team's body language was not that of the world's best team."
Mike Procter, South Africa's chairman of selectors, has suggested that South Africa's composition was wrong. "The side looks so balanced on paper but in actual play maybe it's over-balanced," he said. "The guys had worked hard during the off-season and I was 100 percent happy with their preparation. But it was extremely disappointing to go out the way we did."
With Majola set to inquire into the team's performance, Procter, Arthur and Smith have plenty to do with an eye on the 2011 World Cup. Procter has pinpointed the No. 6 position in the line-up as a focal point, mulling both Mark Boucher's and Albie Morkel's roles. He felt Boucher would be better used at No. 7 and that Morkel's credibility as a genuine allrounder was in doubt.
"Maybe we could look at another batter at No.6," he said. "That may mean dropping one of the spinners, and putting Boucher at No.7, but both Roelof van der Merwe and Johan Botha have done a terrific job for us. It's a really difficult one. It can backfire on us, perhaps we are too overbalanced."
Morkel's 13 overs in the tournament cost 97 runs and he failed to pick up a wicket. "I think that Graeme still has confidence in Albie as a bowler but perhaps the question we need to ask is whether he is the all-rounder we need as the sixth bowler," said Procter. "There is JP Duminy who can also bowl. There is a sort of imbalance in the team at the moment."
Procter and the national selection panel will look at the options on the domestic circuit with England due to tour South Africa later this year. "Over the next few weeks all the selectors will be going to domestic matches," said Procter. "We'll chat to the coaches and see what is coming through. But we must keep in mind that the side performed well in the past 18 months, so it's a tough cookie.
"We've got to look at winning one of these ICC tournaments. We play well in between and get the No.1 ranking, but we've got to justify that ranking by getting our hands on an ICC trophy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala