Johannesburg - Poor management and a negative mindset contributed to South Africa's home series defeat by England and loss of the No 1 test ranking, former Proteas captain Graeme Smith said.
Smith's brash leadership over a decade led the side to the top of the International Cricket Council's test rankings, but since he retired in early 2014 he has watched from the sidelines as the team's performances worsen.
Their latest seven-wicket loss to England at the Wanderers on Saturday, that included being bowled out for a paltry 83 in their second innings, gifted the series to the tourists and saw India installed as the new No 1 test team.
Smith believes the management team, led by head coach Russell Domingo, need to look at their role in the decline of the side.
"The players have to take responsibility for their performances, there's no doubt about that, but the management do too," Smith told SuperSport.
"They haven't quite come into the equation of late. At the end the day the performances of the test team for the last year haven't been good enough, so you have to ask questions of everybody.
"How is management getting the best out of them, how are they preparing them, are they directed in the right way, do they need to be firmer, do they need to be softer? I don't know.
"These are all questions that need to come out of the environment. When you are not performing well, people are going to ask questions and you've got to live with it."
Smith, arguably the Proteas greatest ever captain, said there was a lack of strong leadership in the current squad, which has also lost senior players Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher in recent years.
"Some of the decision-making around the space looks a bit worrisome for me. The team seems a bit flat. Some of the messages coming out in the press conferences don't seem positive and it's coming from senior players.
"You're are in a big series and there is a lot of negativity among your senior players. It looks like someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and say, 'listen guys, let's wake up and let's pull our finger out and let's go and play some test cricket'."
The fourth and final test, now a dead rubber, starts in Pretoria on Friday.