South Africa were comprehensively outplayed in their 162-run defeat by Australia in the first Test, said captain Graeme Smith on Monday.
”We let ourselves down in the first innings in batting and bowling,” he told reporters after the home team were bowled out for 291 on the final day. ”We were out-performed skill-wise by Australia and we lacked control, discipline and focus.
”We won’t hide away from the fact the performance was not up to the standards we expect.”
South Africa won the recent three-match series in Australia 2-1 but their defeat at the Wanderers Stadium on Monday means they have lost two Tests in a row to the world’s top-ranked team.
”There won’t be any panicky changes or requests for special pitches,” said Smith.
”The confidence is still there and we know we are capable of better and can play better than them.”
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting felt the match was won on the opening day when his team hit 254-5 despite a damp pitch and overcast skies.
”The first day, in those tough batting conditions, was probably where we won the game,” he said.
”But we played top-class cricket on all five days and everyone made a contribution at different times, when they were needed, which was probably what was lacking in Australia.”
Ponting said he had wanted his players to go on the attack from day one.
”I believe the great strength of Australian cricket is our counter-punching ability so I felt it was important we didn’t just defend on that first day,” he said.
”You’ve got to play your natural game, whatever the conditions, stand up and trust what you’ve got and get through the hard times. I thought the way we did that on the first day was outstanding.”
The strong displays of the three Australian debutants also came as no shock to Ponting.
Marcus North scored 117 in the first innings, Phillip Hughes struck 75 in the second and Ben Hilfenhaus picked up a total of three wickets.
”I’m not surprised because I know what they are capable of,” said Ponting.
”If you’re picked for Australia you’re expected to perform and those guys grew up playing in a domestic competition of high quality.”
The second Test in Durban starts on Friday. — Reuters