Graeme Smith produced a wonderfully paced innings to suggest he might repeat the heroics of Edgbaston last year but it was not to be and the Proteas crashed out of the ICC Champions’ Trophy on the back of a 22 runs defeat to England.
The Proteas’ captain had to settle for the consolation prize of his eighth ODI century and his highest yet, finishing on 141 off 134 balls with 16 fours.
Second prize for the Proteas would have been to lose by 10 runs or less as it would at least have granted them a stay of execution for another couple of days. It would have given them a superior run rate to Sri Lanka and there would then have been the possibility of qualifying in second place in Pool B had England won their final match against New Zealand.
But that is no longer a possibility and the best the Proteas can now achieve is a third placed finish in their pool.
Smith was not interested in offering excuses for the team’s failure to get past the opening round in spite of going into the tournament as the No. 1 ranked side.
“It is difficult for me to sum it up right now,” commented Smith. “It is disappointing when you have a knock like that not to get your team over the line.
“We conceded over 300 runs in two of the three games which is hugely disappointing as well. We need to look at certain aspects of our attack going forward. At the same time as being disappointed we must also give credit to Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood for the way they set it up for Eoin Morgan who batted quite brilliantly.
“The responsibility lies with all of us as players to take control of one of these tournaments and go out and win it. We know we are good enough and that ultimately lies in our hands. It is our responsibility going forward.
“I don’t want to make any excuses about injuries or where we played our matches. Unfortunately we weren’t good enough in our three games. We have to look at ourselves and improve.”
Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola congratulated Smith on his innings and England on their win.
“All credit must go to England for a great display in denying the Proteas a place in the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy,” he commented.
“Graeme Smith put in yet another outstanding performance with the bat, but this was not enough to keep the Proteas going into the next round.
“Despite this hard lesson, CSA will continue its all-out efforts to prepare the Proteas to convert their expertise in being the No. 1 team in world Test and ODI rankings into winning ICC knockout trophies.”
All members of the Standard Bank ODI squad not going to India for the Champions’ League will be released immediately to their franchises to play in the next round of SuperSport Series matches starting on Thursday.
The players going to India leave later this week.