Good morning and thank you for making the time to be here today.
It is important to address the most burning issue in the room today, up front. I know that my extended absence from South Africa after the conclusion of the Proteas’ ICC World Cup campaign has been the subject of much comment. With the benefit of hindsight, my decision to not return home directly after the World Cup should have been explained sooner.
I apologise and make no excuses for it but I ask the South African fans to understand that I was feeling incredibly emotional at the time. Prior to the World Cup I had asked permission to go onto Ireland to attend to a personal matter. At the time I had faced a full media schedule and felt that signalled the end to the campaign. What I did not take into account was the public’s reaction to this decision. I shared my team’s – and the public’s – high hopes for a successful World Cup campaign, but ultimately, the tournament didn’t go our way.
It’s easy to debate the merits of our strategic decisions in the aftermath of the tournament, but had we won the World Cup, those very same decisions would have been lauded. I am still convinced that we adopted the right strategy in deciding to play with three specialists spinners in addition to two strike pace bowlers. This meant that all of our lower order probably had to bat one place too high but, with the exception of the game against India which we nevertheless still won, it meant that the outstanding performance of our attack enabled our bowlers to restrict the opposition to very gettable targets.
Unfortunately our top order did not bat as well as expected and it is something, myself included, that we need to work hard to address as we prepare for tough series against Australia and Sri Lanka Unfortunately plans on the drawing board don’t always come to fruition on the pitch.
As for the future I remain extremely positive about the Proteas’ team as we set about challenging India for their No. 1 Test ranking. This must be our priority target for the season ahead. As soon as the new national coach is named I will work out a programme with him to get my game back to the level I expect of myself. The commitment and the pride I feel for representing South Africa on an International stage is still very close to my heart and feel that I can still make a contribution to the team.
On a personal level, I admit that my own form has not been what I had hoped it would be of late, but I will be working hard over the next few months to once more attain the high standards I expect of myself. Unfortunately, a knee injury that was more serious than originally anticipated cut short my Indian Premier League season, but time is on my side to get fully fit for the new season and to do what I like doing: Giving my best for my country.
Off the field some of you may know I that I got engaged and Morgan and I look forward to planning the next chapter of our life together.
I hope that the South African fans will once more lend us their support as we seek to make a fresh start.