Johannesburg: South Africa's One-Day International (ODI) skipper AB de Villiers has said the transition after ex-skipper Graeme Smith's retirement was very difficult for the national team.
Smith retired in 2014, during the third Test against Australia last March, after captaining South Africa for a record 109 Test matches in over a decade.
His departure came shortly after legendary allrounder Jacques Kallis retired in late 2013. Veteran wicketkeeper Mark Boucher retired the year before with a severe eye injury.
“It was a very difficult phase when Jacques, Graeme and Mark and to an extent even Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini and some of the big names retired,” de Villiers told the International Cricket Council website on Sunday.
“But especially Graeme now recently, because he started a certain culture that we are very proud of now and that we play for."
“But in saying that, when he retired there was a big change in the team, a lot of senior guys took over the side and we had to start something different again.”
South Africa have three separate captains for the three different formats of the game - de Villiers (ODIs), Hashim Amla (Tests) and Faf du Plessis (Twenty20s).
De Villierrs said striking a balance between Smith's legacy as captain and creation of a new style of functioning proved to be the biggest challenge.
“The way Graeme led the side was a whole lot different to what’s happening now,” de Villiers said.
“For a while we were hanging on to what Graeme used to do, but after a few months we realised we had to let go of certain things."
South Africa will play India in three T20s, five ODIs and four Tests in October and November and de Villiers said the No.1-ranked test team have done a great job in reaching the top and plan to remain there for long.
“I think we’re doing a really job good,” he said.
“There’s a nice, fresh vibe and we’re confident about where we’d heading as a cricket side.
“That culture is still in place that Graeme created, but we’re confident about the way we’re doing things at the moment,” he concluded.