Gibson on Proteas at CWC: 'We were optimistic we'd do well'

South Africa was eliminated in the group stages of the competition, having won three of the nine matches.

FILE: South Africa's Lungi Ngidi (R) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Aaron Finch (C) during the first one-day international (ODI) cricket match between South Africa and Australia at the Optus Perth stadium in Perth on 4 November 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Proteas touched down on home soil on Monday, following their disappointing exit from the Cricket World Cup.

South Africa was eliminated in the group stages of the competition, having won three of the nine matches.

It was a tournament to forget for Ottis Gibson and his chargers, with injuries hampering their build and early parts of the tournament proper.

The fact that they played three games in the first week and suffered defeats in all of them didn't help the cause either.

The selectors and Gibson have come under criticism for picking the likes of Dale Steyn, who was only 80% fit, and did not feature at all in England and Wales.

There were also questions raised on the workload that some of the players had been subjected to during the build-up to the tournament.

Gibson said that having Steyn fit could have made a difference.

"Dale Steyn, over the last 18 months has been a world-class player and key part of our bowling attack. When I met with his medical team in Cape Town during the camp, they said he needed 8 to 10 more days to be ready to play and I felt it was the right to do to afford him that time because if he gets going then we have that world-class bowling attack."

On the tournament as a whole, Gibson said: "Initially with the team that we had, we were very optimistic that we would do well, certainly better than we have done. Once you've lost that world-class bowling attack, there is a lot more pressure on the batsmen to perform."

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said that they never recovered from a poor start.

"The first week, we didn't play our best cricket and probably a roll-on effect of playing two really strong teams in India and England and then losing to a team that we should beat in Bangladesh really knocked the wind out of our sails", he said.

With key players such as Imran Tahir and JP Duminy calling time on their ODI careers, du Plessis was adamant that he wants to carry playing.

"Right now, I am still sitting here with a lot of passion for the Proteas and I'm still extremely motivated. I love captaining this team, its been my purpose for the last year and more than anything that has been the motivating factor for me".

South Africa would no doubt go through a rebuilding phase following the tournament, although the extent of that rebuild would only become clear in the coming weeks.