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February 9, 2006
Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, considered the tour of Australia as the hardest time of his professional life.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Arthur was candid about the tour in which South Africa lost 2-0 in the Tests and won just three of eight one-day matches. "It was the toughest learning curve of my life," he said. "The tour was not a huge success but the team must learn. They can go home and sulk or stand up and be counted. They are determined to turn things around."
Like Graeme Smith, the captain, Arthur cited the loss of Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis as detrimental to South Africa's progress in the VB Series. "The back-up bowling was a real problem," he added. "We had a whole attack out with injury and someone like Andrew Hall, who is normally on the fringes, was leading the attack. Before the injuries, we were a tight unit with the roles clearly defined. But once we lost players, all the roles had to change."
Looking ahead to the 2007 World Cup, Arthur suggested that South Africa still have much to do. "Normally you would introduce one new player at a time, but we had no choice. But the good thing is it gave us a chance to look at players like Dale Steyn, Garnett Kruger and Monde Zondeki, who will definitely play a role as we approach the World Cup," he said. "What is clear is that we need another level, between the franchises and international cricket, to prepare young players for the international arena."
Arthur's immediate assignment is to help prepare the side for a five one-day international and three-Test series at home against Australia beginning later this month.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings