We let ourselves down, says Smith

After his side's collapse in Colombo, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith didn't mince words after defeat in the match and the series, but Marvan Atapattu was predictably rather more upbeat

Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin
After his side's collapse in Colombo, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith didn't mince words after defeat in the match and the series. But his opposite number Marvan Atapattu was predictably more upbeat:

Smith: 'The players need to have long hard look at themselves' © Getty Images
Graeme Smith
On the team performance
I said before we came over here that we were going to have to be on the top of our game for ten days of cricket, and the whole five days here we were on the back foot. We didn't play well enough. There was one session where we performed well with the ball, but the rest of the time we were behind the eight-ball. We didn't bowl well on day one here, and Kumar [Sangakkara] came out positive and put us on the back foot. Looking back on the Test match and how the wicket played, I don't think it was a 460-470 pitch. Then batting the way we did in the first innings really put us under pressure. We put a lot of emphasis on the first innings in Sri Lanka, and to leave ourselves with a deficit like that makes things very difficult.
On Chaminda Vaas's 6 for 29
We have the ability to bat all day, but credit to Chaminda for showing up some of our fast bowlers on how to come and do it on these kind of pitches. He never complains - he just comes in and gets the job done, and does what he needs to do to get the wickets. It's certainly an eye-opener for some of our guys.
On what's wrong with the team in general
A two-match Test series was always going to be tough for us, coming out of a long winter. I thought we did really well in the first game, but we really let ourselves down here in a lot of departments. People may talk about the preparation, but the players need to have long hard look at themselves and our performances. The players on the field just haven't performed well enough in the last couple of games, including the end of last season. We were not hungry enough, and did not want to win as much as they wanted to win. We let ourselves down. We have definitely got the skills. We have got guys who are at the top level of the game, their records show you that, so there is something else missing. They didn't beat us just in the cricketing department - they beat us with the commitment and passion. That's an area that we have to look at. We need to match our skills with the belief that we can do well here. And we also need to embrace the culture and country. It is very different to what we experience at home, but as a team it is important that we embrace where we go.
On the bowling attack
There are not a lot of guys back home pushing for places in the bowling department. It is easy to sit here and complain and talk about replacements, but there is no point if the replacement comes and does the same stuff. We have got to be a bit more patient with our bowlers, and perhaps a bit harder on them, demanding and challenging a bit more.
On the upcoming one-day series
I do believe that we can regroup and bounce back in this one-day series. I would like to have some time to think about it before we start preparing for our one-day games, as I still pretty emotional about what has gone on [in the Tests].

Atapattu: 'It was a big ask to win a series without Murali' © Getty Images
Marvan Atapattu
On the team performance
We all knew that we had not won a series against these guys, and we were determined to achieve it this time. Everything seemed to work well. We have come together as a group and we are performing well as a unit. Had South Africa batted well in the first innings, which they didn't, I don't think we would have won so easily. They lost a couple of early wickets and that was the key. Chaminda [Vaas] and [Lasith] Malinga got us off to a bright start yesterday, and this morning they took three more quick wickets.
On not enforcing the follow-on
There were 2½ days left, and having so many spinners in our side one would always expect the wicket to take some turn on the fourth and fifth day. We never wanted to face them on the fifth day chasing 150, and wanted to bat them out of the game instead.
On Vaas and the other bowlers
Having people like Vaasy is fantastic because he is not only effective with the new ball. He can also be dangerous with the old ball, as he showed today. It was also encouraging to see Malinga and the spinners chipping in.
On the weather yesterday
The weather was just out of our control. [If it had rained today too] it would have been sheer bad luck. It was very frustrating for us to stay inside the dressing-room and in the hotel. I am sure everyone had their curtains opened looking at the skies every half-an-hour. We were that frustrated.
On winning without Murali
It was a big ask to win a series without Murali. We haven't won many without him. It showed how focused the guys are.