Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, praised Herschelle Gibbs after his century led South Africa to a five-wicket win in the series decider in Cape Town. Gibbs scored 119 off 101 balls, including 10 fours and seven sixes, as South Africa successfully chased 239.
"We were beaten by one man today, he played really well," Vettori said. "I think where we lost it was we bowled poorly at the start, and that gave Herschelle the opportunity to get away. Not taking anything away from his innings - it was one of the best I've seen - but he started off by hitting the bad balls and then he started hitting the good balls away."
Gibbs was on the ball from the start of South Africa's chase, striking Mark Gillespie for two fours in each of his first two overs, before lifting a Kyle Mills delivery over the boundary. He hit the first ball he faced from Jacob Oram for another six as he raced to his half-century off only 40 balls and reached his 19th ODI hundred off only 77 balls.
Gibbs was dismissed by Vettori when he top edged to long leg, and South Africa needed a further 52 runs with eight wickets in hand. They had a brief middle-order lull, losing four wickets for the addition of 18 runs, before they were steadied by Jacques Kallis (30) and Mark Boucher (26 not out).
Gibbs said he did not need to adopt a particularly aggressive approach on the day. "I don't know if I had a go, the ball was just there to be hit," Gibbs said. "It's nice when it comes off, especially in front of your home crowd. It's not often that you can get into the zone and play like that."
Gibbs also praised the groundstaff at Newlands. "I've got to thank the groundsman for producing one of the better wickets we've had here for a few years," Gibbs said. "Combine that with a really nice day and it makes for a really good spectacle."
Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, was satisfied with his team's performance in the three-match series. "Winning a home series is what everyone expects you to do, so it's fantastic to win the way we have done. I'm very happy with the way the guys performed. It's about the intensity you play with, and today the intensity was there.
Smith, batting with an enlarged spleen resulting from a virus, scored 51 off 74 balls, and was involved in a 173-run opening stand with Gibbs, and was happy with the way his team-mates stepped up to the task. "We had a few tough words in the dressing room after Port Elizabeth (where New Zealand won the second ODI to level the series). But everyone knows their responsibility, and it was just a matter of stepping up the work and being hungry for success."
New Zealand vs South Africa
New Zealand tour of South Africa