By Hugh Lawson
LONDON (Reuters) – South Africa’s players expressed bitter disappointment and even embarrassment after their elimination from the World Cup was ensured by their loss to Pakistan at Lord’s on Sunday but they said they would learn lessons and return stronger.
The Proteas’ chances of progressing in the tournament evaporated after they logged their fifth loss in seven matches, making it mathematically impossible for them to secure a top-four spot and a place in the semi-finals.
“It’s becoming where it’s a little bit embarrassing. We’re trying, but it’s just not good enough. Obviously I’m human as well so it will keep chipping away at me,” captain Faf du Plessis told reporters after a 49-run defeat at Lord’s.
“I’m a very proud player and captain, and playing for South Africa means a lot for me, and the fact (is) that the results we’re dishing out at the moment – you know it’s really, really tough,” he said.
The team’s headline bowler, paceman Kagiso Rabada, said the whole team felt like they had failed to play to their usual standard, both on Sunday and throughout the tournament.
“Pakistan turned up, and we didn’t,” he said.
“We’re very disappointed. We tried so hard at practices and we spoke about what we needed to do, but unfortunately we just couldn’t bring it out into the field of play. And that’s what you have to do in tournaments like this.
“We try to prepare, we do our analysis. We come in with a good mindset – it’s just execution is one thing that’s been a question mark for us,” added Rabada.
Du Plessis said the team had been running low on confidence as their losses piled up and turning that around rested mostly with each individual player.
“For me at the moment, it’s a confidence thing. The guys are playing with low confidence and therefore making more mistakes,” he said.
“The responsibility lies with every player to try and make sure that he comes to the park and gives everything, and if confidence is an issue, you need to sort it out yourself.
“You know, if I could I would get my wand out and get some runs on the table for our batters. But I can’t, unfortunately.”
Rabada and Du Plessis said the team had lessons to learn, and that they would be fighting to get things right next time.
“We’ll definitely be back firing, looking to nail some of the things that we wanted to nail in this tournament,” Rabada said.
(Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Ken Ferris)