Graeme Smith hits back at South Africa critics

Cape Town: Captain Graeme Smith hit back at the critics of his senior players after South Africa`s 10-wicket victory in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.

The win gave Smith`s men a 2-1 triumph, their first series win at home in three years.

"Someone`s head always seems to be on the chopping block ... but we haven`t lost too many Tests at home, we`ve just lacked a killer punch and the second-Test defeat in Durban was a big disappointment for us," the skipper told a news conference.

South Africa`s defeat in Durban had prompted media speculation that Smith, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher should step down.

Kallis, though, was the man of the match in Cape Town, scoring 224 with the bat, claiming three for 35 with the ball in Sri Lanka`s second innings and taking a record-equalling six catches in the game.

Boucher did not bat but dropped two catches while Smith scored 16 in South Africa`s first innings 580 for four declared.

"There`s no problem with Boucher and it was the first time I`ve seen him drop a catch in ages," said Smith. "As a gloveman he`s been excellent for us, ultra-reliable.”

"When we go to England (this year), having a reliable wicketkeeper will be crucial. As far as my own game goes I feel I`m batting well, as well as I have in a long time," added opener Smith.

"I got out stupidly here but the whole summer I`ve battled hard, scoring a hundred against Australia and a half-century against Sri Lanka."

Smith praised his attack after they bowled Sri Lanka out for 239 and 342 in the final Test.

"That was our best bowling performance of the summer," he said. "Each guy bowled well in his spell and created pressure because we worked well together in partnerships."

Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan blamed his team`s lack of consistency and their domestic structure for the series defeat.

"We have to correct our domestic structure," he said. "We have 15 clubs and just six of them are strong.

"We have promising under-19 players but when they come to the clubs it`s not that strong at that level and then it`s a huge difference when it comes to international cricket.”

"If we get the domestic structure right we might be able to produce some good cricketers. Our bowling and batting is also not consistent, that`s the other reason we lost the series," said Dilshan.

Bureau Report

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