Dean Elgar says South Africa are learning in the "most ruthless and brutal way" after Australia consigned them to a crushing Test series defeat.
The Proteas were hammered by an innings and 182 runs on day four of the second Test at the MCG after being bowled out for only 204.
Victory for Australia sealed their first Test series triumph over South Africa on home soil for 17 years, with one match left to play.
Elgar criticised the lack of first-class and Test cricket the Proteas are exposed to and called for that to be changed.
The South Africa captain said: "Hopefully that spiral can come to an end come next season where first-class cricket will be looked after a bit better.
"I know that is in the plans that we do potentially have more first-class cricket back home. But yes, it's a tough one. I've got to bite my tongue."
He added: "We need to be playing more Test cricket and our players need to be exposed to this level. Even though we're taking a hiding like we've had in the first two Tests here and the England series that we had, our players need to be exposed to that.
"Unfortunately we are all learning in the most ruthless and brutal way but I think there are more learnings out of this than going out and playing against a team that's of similar strength and we beat them."
Elgar stressed that it is not all doom and gloom.
"For me, it's about that positive affirmation that you have to give to the greater group," he said.
"I'm not going to go away from that because I still feel the guys that we have here are talented cricketers and hardened first-class cricketers, but they obviously just lack experience at the Test level.
"We've still going to show faith in them. And hopefully that turns things around. There's a saying in cricket – you're only one knock away from being back in form and got to believe that.
"For me, it's not just a cliche. I think there's a lot of merit in it. We have to still keep the encouragement and keep reminding the guys that they're not crap cricketers – let's put it that way and to be blunt."