Johannesburg - There was little to smile about after the third Test between the Proteas and England ended two days ahead of schedule in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Kagiso Rabada's maiden five-wicket haul had initially made for a buoyant Wanderers crowd as the Proteas looked to level the series, but by the end of the day it was all doom and gloom from a South African point of view.
AB de Villiers was a visibly distraught figure at the end of it all, but the Proteas captain backed his group of players and challenged them to turn things around when the fourth Test gets underway in Pretoria on Friday.
"I don’t think the players we have are the issue … there’s still something to work with there," said De Villiers.
Guiding the young players in the national set-up is something that De Villiers has spoken about at length and something that is clearly very close to his heart, and he believes that the 7-wicket thrashing in Johannesburg will make these players stronger.
"I think they’ll learn a lot. Not long ago I was that youngster in the team … going through a lot of ups and downs at Test level," the 31-year-old said.
"You learn a lot from that … it’s important just to survive at the moment and for a youngster to get through this.
"If guys like Kagiso (Rabada) and Hardus (Viljoen) and a few others get through this patch they will become much better cricketers moving forward."