Cardiff — As Rassie van der Dussen pointed out at the Proteas team hotel in Cardiff on Thursday, when sides lose, people want answers.
The Proteas know that better than anyone right now.
They are winless from four matches at the 2019 World Cup and have just a single log point to show for their efforts following a wash-out against the West Indies in Southampton on Monday.
It leaves them with what is looking an increasingly insurmountable task to make the tournament semi-finals, and the reaction from back in South Africa has, rightly so, been fierce.
Fans, like the players, have waited a long time for this World Cup campaign and they deserve better than what has been dished up so far.
Taking injured players into the World Cup, having players who have held onto international cricket for too long, an inability to deal with pressure, player depth and a lack of mental strength have all been identified as possible reasons for what is quickly turning into South Africa’s worst ever performance at a Cricket World Cup.
Then there was the AB de Villiers media storm that came at the worst possible time for an already under-fire group of players.
On Thursday another theory was dished up when Van der Dussen was asked about the domestic structures in South African cricket and whether or not they adequately prepared players for the challenges of international cricket.
The 30-year-old is perhaps the most equipped member of South Africa’s 15-man squad to answer that question, given that has spent the best part of a decade on the franchise circuit before breaking into the Proteas.
Van der Dussen has played first-class cricket all over the world, from England to Ireland and Canada to the West Indies, and he has been a stalwart at the Lions for a long time now.
“I would say judge it on me, then,” he responded when asked in domestic cricket in South Africa was of a high enough standard.
“I think I’ve done okay in the last few games that I’ve played for South Africa. When teams lose people start looking for reasons why, but I don’t think that’s the place to look.
“We’ve got a very strong domestic set-up in South Africa and some really good players. It doesn’t matter if a guy hasn’t played international cricket.
“The nature of South African sport is very competitive, and you’ve still got to sink or swim to survive in that environment.”
Van der Dussen averages 66.57 from his 13 ODIs since making his debut in January, and in that short time he has carved out a reputation for himself as one of the most honest, hard-working and mature members of the Proteas squad.
“When I go out to bat, I know it is a big occasion,” he said.
“I know there are a lot of cameras on me and a lot of opinions being formed, but it is what it is and the sooner you accept it, you can go out there and do your job and try be at your best every ball.
“I know that, regardless of who the opposition is, if I am at my best, I can play a match-winning innings. If the 11 guys believe that, then we can put in match-winning performances.”
Van der Dussen and the Proteas are next in action when they take on Afghanistan in Cardiff on Saturday in what is now a must-win fixture.
Play starts at 14:30 (SA time).
@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 …