Sri Lanka v South Africa, 5th ODI, Colombo July 31, 2013

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sbonelo on August 2, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    1. Smith 2. de Kock 3.Amla 4. Kallis 5 AB de Villiers 6. JP Dumminy 7. Miller 8. Petersen/McLaren 9. Steyn 10. Morkel 11. Tsotsobe/Abbott/Morris.

    This is should be the squad moving to 2015 World Cup, and then we can reshuffle.

  • Rahul on August 1, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Ab is amongst the best players to watch, be it on the field or with the bat. But, as captain, he looks a little soft. I would seriously like to see Amla lead the side. His calmness is second only to Dhoni. I believe he might be a good leader. I just love the look of the eleven that @Renier Potgieter has picked. Looks very good. I cant believe certain people in South Africa rate Behardien so highly, I have never seen him give even a mediocre performance in the umpteen matches he has played, let alone a match-winning performance.

  • Zak on August 1, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    Really, AB? I'm a great fan of yours, but I think you need to take a step back and realise that you're not the best option SA has for captain right now. I personally would like to see Duminy given a shot at captaining the ODI side.

  • Steve on August 1, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    Too many passengers in the team (batsmen and bowlers). Except Hashim, AB and to some extent JP Duminy, none of the batsmen looked international class. Miller may be OK for T20s, but not for other formats. Morkel was a biggest disappointment in the absence of Styen. The old adage, the captain is only as good as his team, holds good in this instance.

  • Ivan on August 1, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    AB just doesn't inspire confidence as a captain. He should bat period. No captaincy. No W/K. They still haven't a clue about the correct batting lineup, which is not surprising considering that no batsman seems capable of scoring runs in 2 successive innings. Faf is a huge disappointment and I agree with other posters that he should open innings. Robin Pietersen is highly overrated (but not by himself unfortunately); van der Merwe is average but would do a better job & is a real trier. With the talent available at the moment (excluding the absentees) the situation looks grim.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    If Srilanka beat u by their spinner in their pitch solution is only that u develop same quality equivalent spinner like herath,mendis,dilshan which can be compared with tahir,botha, i Think ven dar marwe is much better left arm spinner than robin pitersen and phangiso .... Would u remember england beated india on Indian sub-continent spin pitch by their quality spin baller swan and paneser which guys turned ball more than ashwin,jadeja .....

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    @ Satishchandar: I agree, Faf shows glimpses of talent but hasn't shown any real application - perhaps opening the batting will force him to focus. I think de Kock should stay in the team, but not high up the order. He's an aggressive player, and they should use him as a no.6 or 7 finisher along with Robin Peterson.

    Alviro hasn't been a fantastic player for SA, and I'm not sure if he should stay or not - I still feel Ashwell Prince was a great top order player SA dropped after only a few bad games after he returned from a serious injury.

    Get Kalis back in the team, perhaps use him sparingly as bowler, but he fits into that no. 3 spot perfectly. Behardien hasn't convinced me that he's worthy at all, apart from the slight benefit of being a part-time medium pace bowler, which has it's benefits.

    So lets recap, assuming Faf opens:

    1. Amla 2. du Plessies 3. Kalis 4. Duminy 5. de Villiers 6. Miller 7. de Kock 8. R. Peterson 9. Steyn 10. Morkel 11. Tsotsobe/ de Lange/ Abbott

  • lancia71 on August 1, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Quite sad to see some people having a go at AB. Any team goes through this kind of phase. I don't think SA need to panic. Results wouldn't be that different if we sri lankans were put on a green top against Steyn and Morkel. The conditions played a big part in this loss.

  • Cham on August 1, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    @satishchandar, stop bringing in 'substandard' IPL for everything. Just because some mediocre players become 'stars' in substandard IPL due to the lack of quality cricket, it doesn't mean that those players are actually 'international' stardard. Best examples are Pollard, Morris(dropped after 1st two matches vs SL), Bravo, Rayudu

  • Lloyd on August 1, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    I wish I could say the same as AB- find positives out of this thrashing. Any decent sportsman that has been thrashed to this extent needs to consider a career change. Bowlers were hammered at 7,5 runs an over ,batman couldn't put 2 decent scores together, fielding was school boy level. The coach hasn't the decency to take responsibility publicly . Some of those players will be scarred, demoralised for a long time to come for being thrown into the deep end knowing they cant swim. What positives AB.? What positives did you learn from the Champions debacle? Take up hockey AB.

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