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Smith tips Australia as Proteas consider changes

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said Australia were the favourites for the World Twenty20 title after his own side crashed out before the semifinal stage.

An 11-run defeat by defending champions Pakistan here on Monday sealed the Proteas’ fate after South Africa had lost by 39 runs to England in the second round Super Eights phase in Barbados last weekend.

“I think Australia are playing the most dominant cricket, they have beaten teams comprehensively throughout this tournament,” said
Smith.

“England played positive cricket against us, if they can maintain that level of play I think they are probably the one team left that can challenge Australia’s pace attack,” the left-handed opening batsman added.

Turning to South Africa, Smith said a lack of preparation as a side was behind their failure to match their unbeaten run to the semifinals in the 2009 World Twenty20 in England.

“Going into that tournament last year we had played a lot together as a team, we were coming off one of our most successful seasons and the confidence in the group was good, players were playing well, everyone knew their role,” Smith also told reporters.

“Here we have come out of eight weeks of not being together and haven’t really gelled in terms of performing our roles and the confidence doesn’t seem to be there.

“We seem to string one discipline together every game, not all three. Maybe it needs to be looked at in terms of the player group
and maybe (we need) some fresh faces, some new energy…that’s something the selectors need to decide,” he added.

“The team is more important than any individual really and it is about getting the right players involved to be successful.”

On paper, South Africa had a powerful batting line-up at this tournament, including Smith himself, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel.

But only de Villiers (53) made much of an impression against Pakistan as South Africa were stymied by spin.

“Ultimately we kept losing wickets throughout and never found any flow or momentum to our innings, we never really changed the momentum at any stage,” Smith said.

“I think it’s a bit of a confidence game, if you can get a good score under your belt early on and get that confidence it allows you to play with some freedom.

“There is no real pattern in some games. Australia get off to flyers then yesterday [Sunday] they were four or five down and still posted 170 [against Sri Lanka],” he explained.

“It is the same with other teams, one day the top order comes off and then the other game the middle order posts the total.

“It’s about having a group of players with confidence that really believe and know the game very well and know their strengths, those teams that have been successful are doing that.” — Sapa-AFP

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