Wisden CricInfo staff
Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock, the current and deposed captains of South Africa, have both asked for more time to mould the team into a top-class unit. The South African effort came in for plenty of flak after they slumped to a 153-run defeat against India at Dhaka, Smith's first match as captain.
"We are a young side and need time to settle down," said Smith. "One should not expect clinical performances from us like that of a top professional side, as it is a transitional period for us."
Pollock echoed those views. "It takes time for young players to step into senior players' shoes. There is a lot of talent and ability in our team but it is not fair to compare a newcomer with someone who has played over 100 one-dayers."
Smith was especially positive about the performance of his bowlers at Dhaka, singling out Allan Dawson for special praise. "I think our bowlers are adapting quickly. Dawson is bowling particularly well and is probably our best bowler after Shaun."
Pollock, who captained South Africa in 26 Tests and 90 one-day internationals, said that he was trying to get used to being just another player. "It takes time to adjust because you are used to marching the troops around and then suddenly realise you have to more or less stick to your fielding position. But I also have the responsibility of helping the youngsters develop, pass on my experience to them."
"I have to adjust to new things like bowling first-change when I have bowled with the new ball all my life. I am likely to have a higher batting position too, so I have to learn certain aspects."
Meanwhile, Mark Boucher, the vice-captain when Pollock was at the helm, said that he would have refused the captaincy had he been offered the job. "I would have said no to it," said Boucher. "I was not prepared for that extra responsibility and would much rather concentrate on my role behind the stumps.
"It takes a special person to be captain of an international side. I would not have been comfortable worrying about bowling changes and field placements while keeping wicket, though I would always like to chip in with suggestions. The wicketkeeper is in the best position to make certain judgments as he has a better idea of the movement of the ball and what the batsman is trying to do, but it is not necessary that he leads."
Boucher also indicated that the senior players had no prior idea that Smith would be appointed captain. "We only found that out when the selectors decided to remove Shaun. We were just told that Smith would take over."