South Africa turn to introspection after thrashing
AB de Villiers had marked out the ODIs in Sri Lanka as the beginning of South Africa's approach to the 2015 World Cup, but South Africa's captain conceded, after the fifth ODI in Colombo, that the 4-1 thrashing may trigger changes in personnel.
His side had been beaten comprehensively in three matches - twice by well over 100 runs, and in the third by eight wickets - and comfortably in the other match, which had been affected by rain. The scale of their defeat led de Villiers to admit Sri Lanka had been out of South Africa's league, at times, and that realisation will now lead to a period of introspection.
"We will have to have a look at the squad again. There might be a few changes here and there - I'm not sure, but we'll have to have a few meetings with the selectors and see what they think. I'd still like to think that most of these guys will be representing us at the World Cup in 2015, but we have quite a bit to think about. I don't like to be too negative about it, but there are some areas we must improve and make some hard calls."
South Africa's inability to defuse, or produce, good spin bowling was among their shortcomings in the series, as they failed to mount a score of over 250 and conceded 300 runs twice in sluggish conditions. Sri Lanka's slow bowlers accounted for 24 South Africa wickets in the series, but the visiting spinners could manage only seven breakthroughs.
"We'll definitely have to work on some individuals who haven't played spin well, including myself. The whole team didn't do well, but then again, they are world-class spinners. They are strike bowlers, where our seamers are generally the strike bowlers. We played a different brand of cricket to them, but when we play in their conditions, we'll have to improve on the way we play their brand. We'll have to review some of the game plans and techniques against the spinners."
Though de Villiers said it was hard to search for positives from the series, he was hopeful the experience his players gained would be of value in the years to come.
"As odd as it sounds, the biggest positive for me is that we went through this. An experience like this in the subcontinent is really irreplaceable. Guys will become better players. I went through it early on in my career and I had a lot of senior players to carry me through in those times, and I'd love to believe I'm one of those senior players now, to help some of these youngsters become better."
Lessons from the series would be carefully absorbed, he said, not least by him, having now captained in his first full series loss.
"I feel like I've learnt so much as a captain in this series. I felt like my calls were getting better and better, controlling the team better and managing the team better. Unfortunately the results didn't get any better as we went through the series. It's a tough pill to swallow, but I feel like I made some metres as a captain."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here