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'We didn’t play good cricket'

I’m obviously incredibly disappointed that we lost the one-day series against New Zealand. I think there were several factors that played a part in our series defeat, but the bottom line is that we didn’t play good cricket. I just felt that we didn’t bat as well as we could have – particularly in the middle order - and our bowling wasn’t up to the standards we’ve set – particularly the bowling at the death.

In saying that, I do feel that the loss of several key players also impacted significantly on the strength of the team. That’s not taking anything away from the guys who came in, but taking the likes of Hashim and AB out of the batting line-up makes a heck of a difference. You just can’t substitute that class. What was good was that there were a lot of opportunities for young guys to come in, play and experience the pressure that comes with playing international cricket.

But for me, you can’t play like the number one team in the world if your top players aren’t playing. It also showed us how big a role those guys played in getting us to the number one position.

In terms of the difference between 20/20 and ODI cricket, I feel that, because it’s so short, in 20/20 cricket you’re able to express yourself immediately, whereas ODI cricket requires more strategy and there’s obviously a longer period of time that you have to play at a high level for. That’s why it’s essential to have your top experienced players.

With regards the captaincy itself, it was obviously a huge honour to take over from AB for the last two games due to his ban. But, if I’m honest, it was actually quite a surprise. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the national one-day side.

Captaining the T20 side was obviously great, but test and ODI cricket is a bit more serious, so I really appreciated getting the nod. I also enjoyed the experience, but it is a lot of hard work – I’m just grateful to get the opportunity now when my game is in good shape and I’m playing well.

I think the public reaction and disappointment at us losing the series has been fair, as has been the criticism. That’s because, like I’ve said, we didn’t play well as a team. I still feel that if we’d played to our potential, we would have beaten that New Zealand side with the players we had. That’s why it’s disappointing.

Now I’ve got a test match to look forward to, with a big game against Pakistan at the Wanderers. I’m really looking forward to switching back to test cricket and things are going well for us in that form of the game. It’s also going to be a special occasion with Graeme’s 100th test as a captain – he deserves all the accolades he will receive.

I think the Pakistanis will pose a real threat. They’ve got some dangerous players and it’s going to be interesting seeing this seven-foot fast bowler of theirs - Mohammad Irfan.

The Wanderers, with its bouncy track, should suit him, and it’s good that we’ve got Morne Morkel to practice with this week, as he also gets lots of bounce. I’m also going to be putting in some practice playing spin bowling, because Saeed Ajmal is a class act and one of the best bowlers in the world. He’s got great variation and control and I haven’t faced him in test cricket, so it’s important that I do my homework. That will include talking to the guys who have played him.

Until next time.

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