Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 3, 2012

'Humbled' Smith targets South Africa legacy


When Graeme Smith took his team home from Australia in the summer of 2005-06, he could not see a way to beat Ricky Ponting's Invincibles. If you had told him then that seven years later, he would have had the better of Ponting twice he would not have believed it. After South Africa's win in Perth, Smith had done just that and his satisfaction far outweighed any disbelief.

"In 2005, it seemed a very long shot to be able to achieve this. I am extremely humbled," he said. "I hope the people in Australia can respect what we have done and the way we have done it. For us, it means the world.

"There are people in our set up that have taken many beatings at the hands of Australia. We know what is required to come here and be victorious. When we get on the plane, I will have a warm feeling to have been a part of something incredible and something special and to have been able to share with guys who have put in an immense amount of hard work behind the scenes to celebrate these moments."

The post-match party began in customary style, as the Australia team went over to the South Africa change-room to share a drink. The visitors, who were also the victors, stayed long after the hosts had left. After 8pm, the South Africa team made their way on to the field, bags and all, to have a celebratory photo session, which reminded team manager, Mohammed Moosajee, of their MCG revelries four years ago. As they walked out to the pitch where they had made history they were snapped along the way.

In the privacy of the dressing room there may have been wilder festivities but in the open they were more restrained, even though there was no one but a few journalists watching while they worked. South Africa gathered together for a huddle and sang their team song. The lyrics haven't been released but the essence of the anthem is about understanding what representing the country means. There might also have been a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for Mark Boucher.

In previous series wins, South Africa have held longer parties on field but this time it only lasted ten or so minutes. Then, they gathered their bags and walked off. Some of the team were able to get on a flight back home tonight, along with most of the management. The rest will follow tomorrow. Having spent almost half the year on the road, returning home has been a priority for the team throughout the year.

This time, they go back having achieved more than ever before. The No. 1 ranking is secure and they have enjoyed a year during which they racked up a second successive series win in both England and Australia. That pattern is the "proudest achievement," of Graeme Smith's career - and surely every other member of the squad too. As a mark of how rare success in Australia is, consider that before today, only England and West Indies had recorded successive series victories in Australia.

Winning in Australia is an achievement purely because of the quality of the opposition and their history of dominance. But for South Africa it is also how they won this series that stands out. "We had to scrap and adapt and our depth was tested," Smith said. "At times, we didn't bowl well. We hit our straps in this match and we got everything together. This was the performance that I have got used to in our guys over the years and it's important not to take that for granted."

Now, Smith believes South Africa are on course to create their own period of hegemony. They have already overcome one of the toughest hurdles and with assignments against New Zealand and Pakistan to follow at home, they see an opportunity to hold on to the mace for longer than some of their predecessors have. "This series was going to be the challenge for us to give ourselves the opportunity to lengthen that gap [at the top of the rankings] and create that legacy," Smith said.

The era may have already begun. South Africa have played ten Tests in 2012, nine away, and have not lost one. "I am extremely proud to be a part of the last nine matches. For us to win back-to-back Test series in England and Australia is an immense effort. You just have to look back and see how long it took us to get here. Now to be able to take that and play in front of our home fans will be great."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    in every test match in this series aussies have been outplayed by proreas. SA is no 1 and will be no. 1 for good long time.

  • Harsh on December 5, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    Heartiest congragulations to South Africa for pulling off one of their most authoritative triumphs in Australia,which confirms their billing as the no 1 test team in the world.

    However morally the result should have been 1-1 as Australia all but won the 2nd test and were the better side in the 1st test.They were handicapped with the loss of the Pattisnon in the last innings of the 2nd test and the bulk of their pace attack in the final test.For most of the series the Aussies played the better cricket.

    Anyway South Africa;s ressurection at Perth was magnificient and they deserve their place at the top of the test table.

  • Casper on December 4, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    @Yakka-04 how about philander steyn and morkel together with peterson? they r hunting as a pack and when they fire all get burned :)

  • Michael on December 4, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    @Hammond You say "South Africa, if you can only win one match out of 3 against a bog average Aussie side, then be prepared to lose the number 1 status within the next 12 months."

    Are you sure about this and have you considered all the facts? - South Africa were a man down in Brisbane. No fore gone conclusion they would have lost the test.How would England have fared with a man down? - Look at the stats mate, Aus don't lose at the Gabba. With a full compliment of players & no rain we may have. Who knows. - Adelaide was a draw, yes we were without Patto but they were effectively without Kallis. This test could only have been drawn by a mentally tough team. Again does England have the mental strength and grit shown by the South Africans? I personally doubt it it. - Perth was a total annihilation. - Aus are not too far behind England , they would haved leapfrogged them to no.1 if they had beaten South Africa.

    Credit where credit is due. FYI Aus will be no 1 again before England mate.

  • rahul on December 4, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    well as an indian i can proudly say that the only team to fightback against mighty aussies in their prime was india . from 1998 - jan 2008 ( when gilly took retirement after adeliade test ) the record stands 10-8 .with 10 aus wins & 8 indian wins .in the same time sa were whitewashed twice in 2005 & 2006 by aussies . but today the story is totally different . south africa are dominating cricket ,aussies are rebuilding , while india has gone to their lowest in tests ( thanks to our pathetic captain who seems like have no interest in test cricket ) .

  • Varnendra on December 4, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    @Pras_Punter, very true but New Zealand also should be there even though they are not very good cricketwise. West India apart from once being OK in the field could never really come out of their bitter feeling towards whites. Even Viv Richards is still bitter about whites. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zim and Bangal have never displayed adequate style to be test playing nations but India at least have the potential because cricketers like Tendulkar and Dravid come from there.

  • David on December 4, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    See what our Boyz can do with 11 men!!! Well played, it was awesome to see the respect given to Punter. Give the Kiwi's a lesson.

  • Girik on December 4, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @Rob Steen, it is great to see a regular Cricinfo writer also write in the comments section. Anyway, South Africa do deserve the number one tag at the moment. I don't think they be dominant as the former WI and Aus unless they find more very good bowlers. Bowling depth is crucial for longevity of success. The West Indies had 5-6 fast bowlers to carry them while Australia had 3-4 fast bowlers with two spinners in Warne and MacGill during their peaks.

  • Dummy4 on December 4, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    I think is Smith is right in asking for SA cricket's accomplishments to be recognised throughout the cricket world..Their achievements are constantly being undermined by poor performances in limited over tournaments. All of us know that winning test matches for a consistent period of time takes much more than winning ODIS.

    The best cricketers are currently in SA team bar a spinner

  • Ian on December 4, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa - you thoroughly deserved this win. The only regret was that it was done against an Australia in transition (albeit still a very good team) rather than the Invincibles of 2005-2006 who were only beaten in two series. Nevertheless, while you cannot turn back the clock, you can certainly look forward to creating your own slice of history and leave behind a legacy which will be fondly and respectfully remembered for years to come. We're all behind you!

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