South Africa suffered a comprehensive 8-wicket defeat to India yesterday and Proteas skipper AB de Villiers said that the reasons behind his side's dismal record at ICC events were still unclear to him. However, the 33-year old insisted that he could still lead his side to the 2019 World Cup title.
"We've covered all the bases. There's no doubt about that," he said. "We've had camp after camp. And we've worked really, really hard on the nets, and we back each other, we trust each other, and for some reason, things like that just keep happening." de Villiers said in the post-match conference.
South Africa yet again bowed out of an ICC tournament prematurely, after failing to overcome India in their do or die encounter yesterday at the Oval. However, de Villiers still believes he can lead his side to the 2019 World Cup title.
"I'm a good captain. And I can take this team forward. I can take us to win a World Cup, I believe," de Villiers said. "I believed the same thing over here in this tournament and the last one here but that's what I believe. I love doing it," de Villiers asserted.
The 33-year old has captained the Proteas since 2011 in the ODIs and has featured in 13 ICC events since the 2006 Champions Trophy, having led South Africa in five of them. The right-hander expressed disappointment at his side's batting performance which collapsed from 76 for no loss to 191 all out. However, the South African skipper insisted that his team had their nerves in check before the match.
"I felt the team was pretty composed today. I don't think we lost it there with composure. A few errors of judgement, a few mistakes out there cost us badly today," he said. "It's not going to do with composure in my eyes. I felt pretty calm with the team all the time. We played some good shots and then just a couple of bad, errors of judgement out there cost us."
Moreover, de Villiers also suggested that there was no mental pressure on the side and attributed the loss to the team's poor standard of play.
"It wasn't a mental thing. We just didn't play well," he said. "Tournaments are a little bit different. You play different teams all the time
However, having denied the general consensus for the reasons of South Africa's loss, De Villiers failed to come up with any of his own. "I can't explain to you exactly what happens. I think you saw it out there today. It was just a very poor batting performance. It has nothing to do with the energy or the intensity or the belief in the team. We felt we had a great chance today. We came here to win the game of cricket. And then we just unravelled as a side out there."
"The way we lost was the most disappointing part of it. We were really in a good position there with the batting end early on, and through soft dismissals, we lost our way and that was the part for me that hurt the most," he said.
South Africa has been known to falter at the biggest ICC tournaments, which has prevented the side from winning any major cricketing title. The feeling of defeat is not new to the team and de Villiers said that they just want to overcome their disappointment for the time being.
"I'm not thinking about the next one now. We just sort of want to go get through this hurt now because it's hurting quite bad. I've not thought about what we are going to think about our next tournament."
South Africa were expected to ease into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, given that they came into the tournament as the number one ODI team, but fell short once again. However, despite their latest setback, de Villiers is adamant that the Proteas are very close to breaking their duck on the big stage.
"I must be very honest with you - not a lot of people believe me but I feel it's pretty close. I don't think it feels far away. It's very difficult to say that after a performance like this, but that's what I believe in my heart. I believe we're the very close unit. There's more than enough talent, and we've just got to get it right when it matters most."