Colombo: An emotional South Africa captain AB de Villiers apologised for “letting their country down” after the team failed to make the semi-finals of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.
The Proteas skipper was close to breaking down in tears during his post-match press conference following Tuesday’s loss to India — their third in a row in the Super Eights stage.
South Africa were among the favourites for the tournament in Sri Lanka before it started, but De Villiers was forced to reflect on an early exit.
“Disappointed isn’t the word to describe it — we’ve had a poor tournament. We have let the country down and that’s what hurts most. We did all the preparations possible, we thought we were ready but the guys didn’t click,” he said.
De Villiers had to lead his team on to the field against India knowing they had no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals following Pakistan’s win over Australia earlier in the day.
South Africa still played strongly, however, and only lost by one run — a result that also ended India’s tournament.
“We knew what the story was before we went out but every time I put this shirt on it’s a huge honour. We gave it our best again and unfortunately we weren’t good enough,” he said, touching his team jersey.
“I don’t think it [South Africa’s early exit] was down to the conditions, we just didn’t play good cricket. It started against Pakistan, where we got ourselves into a winning position and somehow managed to find a way to lose that game.
“We still didn’t give up hope after that, worked really hard and came back against Australia. We just got beaten by a better unit on that day.”
The Proteas captain said they had tried hard against India but just never clicked throughout the tournament despite all the preparation.
“It’s hard to put my finger on it — we just played poor cricket throughout. It is very disappointing, especially with all the support we got,” said De Villiers.
“We really felt very well supported throughout the tournament and, to disappoint everyone, it hurts quite a lot.
“They [South Africa’s supporters] expect a lot more from us and unfortunately we couldn’t deliver this time around.”
He however saw no cause to give up on his men saying: “I have got a lot of faith in the guys, the way they have performed and they have performed in the past really showed me that I can’t lose faith in them right now.
“We will go back home, work really hard, we will come back fighting whenever we get that opportunity to represent our country, which is always a great honour. We will deliver.”