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SAfrica coach says Aussie tour was tough

09/02/2006 06:09:40 AM Comments (0)

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has said the disappointing tour of Australia had been the toughest time of his professional life.

"It was the toughest learning curve of my life, tougher than I expected," Arthur told a press conference.

His team lost the Test series 2-0 to Australia before being eliminated in the round-robin phase of the one-day VB Series with the host and Sri Lanka.

"The tour was not a huge success but the team must learn from it. They can go home and sulk or stand up and be counted," Arthur said.

The coach said the poor results in the limited-overs triangular series, where the Proteas won three of their eight matches, were caused by South Africa having to field a second-string attack due to injuries.

"The back-up bowling was a real problem. We had a whole attack out with injury and someone like Andrew Hall, who is normally on the fringes, was leading the attack.

"Before the injuries, we were a tight unit with the roles clearly defined. But once we lost players, all the roles had to change," Arthur said.

The coach refused to criticise South Africa's batsmen, who scored fewer than 200 runs in four of their eight matches in the VB Series.

"Our batting was not a problem. The amount of talent in our top six is frightening, but because they were always chasing really difficult totals they could never play their own games.

The top-order batters could never settle."

Australia arrive in South Africa on February 20 to play three Tests and five one-day internationals.

Captain Graeme Smith said he was excited about clashing with the world's number one team again.

"We need to rest and regroup and we'll have a very strong squad back to face them again. We just need to be more decisive against them and have more confidence in our ability to finish games," Smith said.

Former skipper Kepler Wessels has called for Smith to step down as captain if his side's under-par showing continued during Australia's tour.

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