South Africa received neither a scare nor a wake-up call after their defeat to West Indies in Port Elizabeth even thought it came little more than two weeks before their World Cup campaign gets underway. With the series already won, AB de Villiers preferred to look at the positives of their performance and not the impact of pressure on an XI without five of their frontline players.
"It's not a wake up call," de Villiers said. "We were wide awake the whole way through there. We weren't complacent or anything like that. After every wicket were talking about staying humble, keep working hard, running balls down to the boundary. There's no way it was a wake up call. It came down to a little bit of pressure at the end there and we lost. It's a painful affair but we move on and we will try to finish on a high at Centurion."
De Villiers will not play in the finale after team management confirmed he will be rested for the fifth ODI but South Africa will have their first-choice opening pair back. Hashim Amla will return after being rested and Quinton de Kock is expected to make his comeback that will add stability to the top order. Coupled with what de Villiers has praised as a strong middle-order, thanks to David Miller, he expects South Africa to be back to their best in the last match in Centurion on Wednesday.
Miller scored his maiden ODI century, to go with a 70 earlier in the series, and Duminy contributed to a fifth-wicket partnership of 90 which has meant the lack of significant contributions by Farhaan Behardien is not a concern for now. "It was a great knock by David and he deserves all the credit that's gonna come his way," de Villiers said. "I am very chuffed with the middle order. I know we're going to need that middle order at the World Cup if we are going to win it."
Instead, de Villiers believes South Africa are building a line-up that opposition attacks will fear. "I want bowling line-ups to look at our batting lineup and think we are not going to get through there. We are building up confidence in that middle order."
While South Africa's batting is not foremost in the captain's mind as far as improvement, the bowling is, simply because of the freebies they allowed and not the personnel. "There were too many extras today and that hurt me quite a bit. If you're going to play close games of cricket, it comes down to little things like that," de Villiers said. "As good as our frontline bowlers are, I don't think anything would have been different. I thought the guys delivered their skills well. These okes [South Africanism for blokes] bowled exceptionally well today and a couple of knocks took it away from us."
When it came down to it, that was as much as de Villiers was willing to read into South Africa's defeat. It was just a game of cricket, which they lost and the other team won, not an indication of where they need work before the World Cup or how the West Indies can get up when push comes to shove.
"West Indies always seem to catch criticism for behaving the way that they are but I don't see anything different in the last 10 years I've been playing against them to what I saw in the last few months. That's the way they play," he said. "Some games they win and some they lose and I don't know why people keep criticising them for having a bit of fun off the field and being relaxed. That's how they are. They just played a normal game of cricket and performed."