ICC Champions Trophy 2017: AB de Villiers – Post Match Press Conference, India vs South Africa, Match 11

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It's a must-win game for both sides at Cardiff © Getty Images

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: AB de Villiers – Post Match Press Conference, India vs South Africa, Match 11

Q.Where does that loss rank in the long list of South African tournament exits?
AB de VILLIERS: It’s disappointing as all the other losses in the past. Yeah, it ranks right up there. It’s always very disappointing to me when we lose a game, and 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. And so right in the game, on for round about 300, which I thought was very defendable on that wicket today.

Q.The run outs with these defeats, and obviously in England, these things don’t really happen. What do you put that down to, the fact that there always seems to be a run out around?
AB de VILLIERS: Very difficult to explain that to you. I don’t know how that happened. It’s a partnership out there. It’s two guys that trust — try and trust each other to pull off a run or two and sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way, and you come up short. I don’t know what happened there today. I wouldn’t like to blame guys out there. It’s just one of those things that happens, I guess.

Q.Virat said that this match will depend on which team keeps its composure, and you also said the same thing, not to get too excited. What happened with so much experience that South Africa had? Where did you lose the game? Was it composure? You also mentioned communication. So where did it go wrong with so many senior players including yourself and Faf?
AB de VILLIERS: Yeah, I felt the team was pretty composed today. I don’t think we lost it there with composure. A few errors in judgments, a few mistakes out there cost us badly today.

We desperately needed another partnership in the middle order. That’s where we lost our way. We needed one more partnership of 50-odd to get the ball rolling again after my run out and we couldn’t do that. Run outs happen. A 3 in 1 innings is definitely not the way we want to play our cricket, that’s for sure. So it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get the partnership going.

Again it’s got nothing to do with composure in my eyes. I felt pretty calm with the team all the time. We played some good shots. Just a couple of bad, error in judgments out there that cost us.

Q.Given that some of the things keep happening when South Africa get knocked out of major tournaments, what kinds of questions are you going to be asking yourself and the team before you prepare for the next one?
AB de VILLIERS: I’m not thinking about the next one now. We just sort of want to just 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. That’s probably the World Cup in two years’ time.

Look, we’ve covered all the bases. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve had camp, off the camp. And we’ve worked really, really hard in the nets, and we back each other, we trust each other, and for some reason, things like that just keep happening.

Wasn’t a knockout game today. Was still part of our pool games, so that’s the one area that’s a bit different, but it was still a must-win game, and we pride ourselves in coming on top when we have to win a game. We’ve done that for quite a bit in big series not long ago in the last 12 to 18 months and unfortunately we couldn’t pull it off today.

Q.Do you still want to play the next one?
AB de VILLIERS: The World Cup? Absolutely.

Q.You’re a very fine athlete and it’s very surprising that you’ve been run-out so many times. Is it possible because you’re chasing runs which maybe other batsmen would not go for?
AB de VILLIERS: Me?

Q.Yes, a high number of run outs.
AB de VILLIERS: Difficult question. You see, I just tried to take a one with my partner out there and it didn’t work. I wasn’t searching for runs, I wasn’t even facing. So I wouldn’t say it like that.

There was a call out there, and I thought we could get through for the one.

Q.Were you looking at a specific score the way the openers batted? They probably wanted to last early on and let the others go toward the end — was that the strategy?
AB de VILLIERS: I thought they did a fantastic job. We would have loved to have gone for more runs in the first 10 but they bowled extremely well. They didn’t miss the mark. There were no cut balls. There were no soft boundary options for us in the first ten, so I was pretty happy with around 40-odd in the first ten overs. I always felt we could pick it up, which we did, until my run out.

So we were going really nicely then, like I said, heading for round about 300 to maybe even more, and I felt pretty good today. It was disappointing, that part of it.

Q.You just said that the India opening bowlers did well in their first nine, ten overs. Didn’t look like the ball was swinging especially a lot or doing anything off the pitch. What did they do right, Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar?
AB de VILLIERS: Yeah, it wasn’t a wicket to pick up — a pitch to pick up a lot of wickets in the first ten and they assessed that really well and early.

So all they did was to try and hit the top of the off stump with a nice, tight fielding unit around that, squeezing a lot of dot balls out of us and not allowing any soft deliveries outside the off stump or any easy boundary options for us. So I that’s what they did well.

I think they assessed the conditions well. They knew they couldn’t afford to bowl for wickets with two slips, so they went back to a bit more of a defensive plan and just tried to squeeze us, and if a bowling unit is doing that, it’s really difficult to get away.

Q.In series after series, you keep on winning bi-laterals and you’re the world No. 1 team. What exactly happens in a sudden-death situation in tournaments like this, because it’s been happening for quite some time.
AB de VILLIERS: Tournaments are a little bit different. You play different teams all the time on different venues, so it’s a big challenge. No one said it’s going to be easy. But we do come up short for some reason in tournaments like this, and it is pretty sad. I can’t explain to you exactly what happens. I think you saw it out there today. Just a very poor batting performance. 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.

Q.If this keeps happening the way that it does, and there’s no real explanation for it, I mean, does that suggest that there’s a more radical shake up that’s required in South African cricket to change the way things go?
AB de VILLIERS: That’s a question can only be answered by people who are in control of making radical decisions. That’s not my decision, that. So we’ll have to wait and see what people out there want to decide or whoever is in control of making those kind of decisions. I don’t think we are a bad cricket team.

Q.But maybe in terms of the mindset, if nothing else.
AB de VILLIERS: We’ve tried quite a few things, camps and psychologists, whatever you want to call it. There’s been quite a few game plans around that.

In my mind, that wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t a mental thing. We just didn’t play well.

Q.I’m sure it’s not much fun coming in and trying to explain what’s happened, and I’m sure it’s much more difficult trying to keep a grip on what’s going on when it goes wrong out there, but why do you still want to be the captain, if you still want to be the captain?
AB de VILLIERS: Because I’m a good captain. And I can take this team forward. I can take us to win a World Cup, I believe. And I believed the same thing over here in this tournament and the last one, but that’s what I believe. I love doing it.

Q.Does it feel further away than ever, 2011, 2015, you seemed to be getting closer and closer. And now, this you don’t even get out of the group stages, the more that you chase this dream of world can you please for this generation, does it feel like something that is sort of getting out of reach now? Some people might not make the 2019 team looking at the way things are going?
AB de VILLIERS: It doesn’t, 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 very close as a unit. There’s more than enough talent, and we’ve just got to get it right when it matters most.

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