Given the level of disappointment over their overall World Cup performance, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis was economic in his happiness after they ended their campaign with a 10-run victory over Australia, saying it had put a “small smile” on the faces of the players and the fans.
“It’s difficult to describe my feelings right now because we are all very passionate about playing for the Proteas, and the World Cup and doing well in it was my absolute purpose over the last year. Things did not go according to plan in the first seven games and that hurts. It’s been a tough tournament but I’m glad we could put a small smile on our faces and those of South African fans today.
“We know they enjoy beating Australia as much as we do, so it’s a small smile but we’ll take it. In the last two games we have played some remarkable cricket but it’s just sad that it didn’t happen earlier. We always seem to raise our intensity a bit for Australia, but I can’t tell you why it didn’t happen for all our games. Having had four days away from the game before this match, maybe that freshness gave us the extra 10% that we lacked, what you need for the battle of the mind,” Du Plessis said after the thriller at Old Trafford, which saw South Africa beat Australia at the World Cup for the first time since their inaugural match in 1992.
Du Plessis, who signed off the World Cup with a brilliant century, said what has pleased him most about the team has been the continued growth of an excellent team spirit, despite the heavy burden of regular, painful defeats in England.
“I think the one thing that has been consistently good through losing and winning has been the team morale. It’s obviously been very disappointing how the tournament has gone but I’ve never felt like excuses were being made or fingers pointed at anyone in the team or on the coaching staff. That’s a real positive for me, that the squad showed great unity.
“When you keep losing like we did, then the cracks can appear, but I never felt that happened and, as captain, I’m really proud of that. Things were right within the team although the performance was obviously not up to scratch in the first seven games. The margins are very small in international cricket and if you’re not on top of your game then you will get beaten,” Du Plessis said.