THE misplaced belief that they could not lose cost South Africa their one-day series against New Zealand, Boeta Dippenaar said on Wednesday.
The Proteas failed to learn the lessons of their one-wicket loss to the Black Caps in Paarl on Saturday, and went down again — this time by 27 runs — in the second match of the rubber in Kimberley on Tuesday.
With that, New Zealand clinched the series in an epic comeback from the hiding they endured in the Test series, in which South Africa won both matches by an innings.
Dippenaar saw an important difference between South Africa’s Test and one-day teams: "Our Test side is very experienced and ruthless, but the one-day team is less experienced."
The team that played in Kimberley had to make do without the suspended AB de Villiers, the injured Hashim Amla and the rested Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis.
"The inexperienced players seem to have reached the stage where they think they can’t lose any more. Perhaps there was a sense (on Tuesday) that the game was in the bag."
The Proteas did well to curb the visitors to a total of 279/8, and they looked to be cruising when they reached 167/1 in the 31st over of their reply. But they lost their way and their last nine wickets for 67 runs.
Among the least palatable of what became a sorry series of facts as the match unravelled was that five Proteas stumbled and bumbled their way to runouts.
"I read a tweet on Wednesday that asked whether Daryll Cullinan (who earned a reputation as a notoriously unreliable runner between the wickets) is South Africa’s new running coach," Dippenaar said. "They got too relaxed and they probably got complacent."
Colin Ingram, who scored 79 on Tuesday, did not agree that South Africa had underestimated the New Zealanders, who went into the series ranked eight places below the Proteas.
"We’ve run into them plenty in the past and they’ve always been a competitive unit," Ingram said.
"We threw away a good position. South Africans don’t like to lose at the best of times, but it is massively disappointing to go down in a home series to New Zealand."
Ingram’s take on the riot of runouts was: "We probably needed to be more aware of where the fielders were at certain times, and New Zealand have some very good fielders".
He did not accept the absence of De Villiers, Amla, Steyn and Kallis as an excuse for the team’s performance.
"Obviously we missed them, but in South Africa we have a world-class system, and the guys who come in have done the job many times."
Amla, who has strained a thigh, has been withdrawn from the squad for the last match of the series in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Robin Peterson is also out, replaced by Dean Elgar.
Sensibly, South Africa are determined to ensure that he keeps his fitness for the Test series against Pakistan, which starts at the Wanderers on February 1.