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

'Humbled' Smith targets South Africa legacy

Firdose Moonda at the WACA

December 3, 2012

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   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.

Posted by harshthakor 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.

Posted by crashed 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 :)

Posted by Wallaroo 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.

Posted by rahulcricket007 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 ) .

Posted by MaruthuDelft 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.

Posted by DaveFish 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.

Posted by Gizza 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.

Posted by   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

Posted by Vindaliew 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!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

Yesterday i watched the highlites of the first test again. The batting on the 3rd day were not normal test match batting by kallis and Amla. They scored 450. Had it not rained on the second day SA would have surely scored 600 plus.Amla getting another 200 as well as kallis. Anyway it did not go that way. My question is, how is it that you guys still maintain that SA were lucky it rained on the 2nd day. Where do you get this from. Is siddle, hilfenhouse and that injury prone bowler so good that they would have beaten SA at perth? Why are johnson, starc, watson, club spinner and club seamer now not so good. Did they not role sa out for 225 in the first innings. SA would have scored more against those other guys as they already knew what to expect of them. Fact is SA outplayed the ausies and won. accept that and move on.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 4, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

As much as I loved to see Aus becoming No 1 again, I respect SA for what they have done. And given the dignified way they carried themselves with the victory, they have certainly earned the respect. Loved their Guard of honor for my man and Kallis's gesture of taking off his cap and wishing him farewell. As I have always stated, test cricket is worth following IF and ONLY if Aus, SA and Eng play among each other. A triangular test-series among them is not a bad idea at all. How about it ?

Posted by david.j.domingo on (December 4, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

Hang on you Aussie fans! Those of you saying that you guys played the weakest bowling attack in Perth are not thinking holistically. Did you guys play an "A team" attack in the first two tests? Why could you not then win those first two? RSA totally owned you guys in traditional test style. Took the punches in the first two (You could not knock us out) and then when we, strategically, tired you out, we gave the knockout punch! There is nothing wrong in admitting that Aus have a bit to go, like we had 7 years ago but right now, we are deservedly the best.

Posted by DickCam on (December 4, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

Too bad they won't keep the no.1 spot for 10 yrs. Or win 3 consecutive world cups. have they won one yet?

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 8:30 GMT)

Not a strong SA team, which is why they lost 1 test series since 2006. Drawn 6. Won 14, including two in England and two in Aus... 21 tests - 14 won, 6 drawn, 1 lost

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 7:30 GMT)

All those taunting SA to have beaten a weak and poor Aus are nothing but very bitter let alone jealous. SA have come a long way to be where they are tdy. U dnt build greats like Kallis, Smith, AB, Amla, Styn, Morne over night. These guys been playing together for a long time, the coming in of Rookies like Venom obviously given SA the edge. Aus is still on a rebuilding phase but who else apart from SA can go to Aus and get a result? India is good but i m not sure if they perfom as expected when playing heavy weights like SA and Aus, i thot they blow hot and cold as witnessed by their humiliation by Eng last week. Eng also they are pretenders, they dont last the distance. The current SA test team is or can be considered to be 1 of the best test sides alongside the likes of Windies os yesta yr and Aus of the 2000s. Hates off to SA they are a good side.

Posted by Fatboydrunk on (December 4, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

You can hardly call this SA team one of the all time greats. A 3 test series that they would of lost the 1st if it hadn't rained. They only just hung on for a draw in the 2nd. Now if you do what England did in 2010 Ashes in Oz and win a 5 test series 3-1 with the 3 wins winning by an innings. Then that is greatness

Posted by Chris_Howard on (December 4, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

Well done, RSA. We Aussies tried to neuter your bowlers with two flat tracks to begin, but once we gave you a fair pitch, you showed us how great you are with both bat and bowl. It was a pleasure to watch, as it always is to watch great yet humble teams perform.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (December 4, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

'I hope the people in Australia can respect what we have done and the way we have done it.' India should take notice. 'How you accomplish' is more important than the prevalent idea in India 'Get it Somehow'. That is because if you achieve things in good style you can sustain it or can do it again. India must produce fair bouncy wickets, field aggressive fast bowlers and on the whole field cricketers who are athletic, entertaining and look good in the field. India'a achievements in cricket so far are not really good enough.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

As an Aussie fan, I can safely say that I am not the least bit bothered by the South Africans beating us. It was an amazing contest and I think both sides played extremely well.

Posted by Raju_Iyer on (December 4, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

If ever a team in today's world deserved to be #1, it is this team. Great bowling attack, solid batsmen and excellent fielders. In the years to come, this will be the benchmark for other countries aspiring to this glory.

Posted by Timbo2530 on (December 4, 2012, 3:15 GMT)

A big shame Pattinson & Cummins were unavailable for Perth but Steyn & Morkel were always going to enjoy Pertht.

Starc is an excellent prospect though but Aust needs some batting depth particularly up top. We need a couple of class openers with the techniques to match (gritty and hard to get out on all surfaces). Warner would be better suited down the order IMO.

The batting cupboard is a bit bare at present. Give Quiney another go and then there's Hughes

Funny how SA can win here against Oz but not at home.

Posted by PFEL on (December 4, 2012, 1:25 GMT)

I wouldn't get too carried away from a South African perspective, they were very average in the first 2 tests and extermely lucky to get out of that 0-0 and come to perth where they were facing what was basically a 3rd string Australian attack. I would be surprised if they held the no. 1 mantle for much longer, and comparing them to 80s WI or 90s-00s Aus side is absurd

Posted by Mitcher on (December 4, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

In answer to Smith: I think much of the Australian public genuinely respects what you have done - and the way in which you have done it. This Sth African side is much advanced of the Indian and English sides that kept the no. 1 spot lukewarm for such short periods. Their ability to perform in all corners of the cricket world sets them apart. If they can finally work out how to ram home that dominance in their own backyard then they will be tough to dislodge.

Posted by funkybluesman on (December 3, 2012, 23:15 GMT)

South Africa certainly have the talent (though I think as Kallis either retires, or pushes forward bowling less and less that will be a real test for them and very difficult to replace), but I think they still lack a little of the ruthlessness and belief required to be really dominant.

When Australia dominated, they didn't just thrash teams in every match, they also won a lot of matches they seemed to have no right to win. SA seem to have a few too many flat periods still. They need to get past that. Steyn still has a bit to prove. He bowled well in Perth where he had some assistance, but the great fast bowlers would come out in Brisbane and Adelaide and bowl spells that make you believe it's not such a flat pitch after all.

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (December 3, 2012, 23:11 GMT)

After the way South Africa battled to hang on in Brisbane and Adelaide this series win is well deserved. Congratulations South Africa, deservedly the number one side in the world. Now Australia must focus squarely on reclaiming the Ashes from the Poms.

Posted by funkybluesman on (December 3, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

Some people are probably getting a bit ahead of themselves here.

SA have only been No. 1 for a very short time, and without having lost a day in Brisbane and Australia losing a bowler early in Adelaide they could have easily been 2-0 down leading into Perth.

They are a very good team, with a solid batting and bowling lineup. But remember that England looked like they had that also as they ascended to the top and we all know what happened. So let's hold off on comparing them to the West Indian and Australian sides which both dominated world cricket for something like 15 years each.

They may yet get there, but they've a fair way to go yet.

Posted by Yakka-04 on (December 3, 2012, 22:24 GMT)

This SA side is good but not great. you cannot compare this side to other great sides of past. If you look at the first two test match Australia had decent bowlers and they dominated SA. Perth test match Aussies had the worst trio combination of bowlers in history. Against decent attack SA will struggle. Now days hardly any team in the world has a decent attack. in the past they had McGrath Warne and Gillespie, Akram and Waqar Unis, Ambrose and Walsh, Vass and Murrili etc. Can anyone name an attack now days that can match these names. The batting quality now days are no where near as good as in the past as well.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 22:12 GMT)

Well done South Africa! Remember the thrashing Ajmal gave to England who were the number 1 side then? Watch out for Ajmal and co. in 2013

Posted by Pedpathpres on (December 3, 2012, 22:11 GMT)

Graeme Smith was a good captain in India in 2004 . He may not have won the series -- but he led from the front. South Africa were in the process of "rebuilding" to adjust to the "post - colonial era", and there were some Saffers who were critical of the very young Smith for even taking the job!! Look how well South Africa have developed -- as a team where the players really play like a National team , with a captain that continues to lead from the front. Finally remember the temporary captaincy by Prince -- the first non - white to ever do so . It was big news --even more so for the fact that by the time it occurred no one seemed to think it was a big thing !! Clearly the South Africans have really grown into a widely based cricketing country and are a very deserving and worthy Number #1. As a fan /supporter of India , how I wish we could have a similar pattern of growth in India.

Posted by kevnssuresh on (December 3, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

Great way of honouring a LEGEND, Good thought & execution Smith. Earlier lot of folks asked about what happens to Duminy since Faf performed exceptionally well and AB being underperformed when taking Gloves man responsibility. I think this match answers most of those questions and simplest thing to do is replace Elgar with Duminy.

Posted by DevilInside on (December 3, 2012, 19:22 GMT)

Their sense of achievement is a tribute to the "Australian way" in itself! Well played SAF! Take a bow! Amongst other news, some Jadeja scores a 3rd triple! Wake up, BCCI!

Posted by Sanj747 on (December 3, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

Great performance. The team delivered when it matters which is what makes leaders. Well done.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 3, 2012, 18:28 GMT)

I knew Oz were in big trouble when Steyn announced before the start of the 3rd test - "We didn't come to australia to draw the series". That's a statement of intent, which when made by the likes of Steyn, Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall just about spells doom for the opposition lol!

Posted by stormy16 on (December 3, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

If I can summarise SA performance in recent times as 'Kallis' like - top shelf without the fuss and nonsense of other top performers. They have been nothin short of sensational with quality bowling and batting. There have been number1 teams (like Eng and Ind) and there have been legendary number1 teams (like Aus and WI) and this SA team has all the makings of being a legendary number1 team. The talent in SA is young and abundant and already looking ominous and with no real issues with pace or spin. Both Amla and AB have made plenty of runs against spin as has Smith who still has a good 5 years of cricket. Its SA's time and surely they will win the next WC in Aus.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 3, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

Relax Graeme. You may not have lost a single away match this year and you may have achieved back-to-back series wins in England and Australia. But, your team has not won a series in the sub-continent. Till you do that, you cannot claim that you are the best ever. The great Windies and Aussie teams did just that. They not only won in England and Australia, they also won in the sub-continent. That is why they are considered the best ever. You have some distance to go before you could even be mentioned in the same breath as them. Except SA fans, no one thinks of Steyn as an equivalent of Marshall, or Amla as an equivalent of Don or Sachin, Philander as McGrath, or Tahir/Peterson as Warne. So, the arrogant Saffers should first win in the sub-continent before blowing their trumpet.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 17:15 GMT)

proud 2 be a south africa supporter..want a career like michael hussey for faf du plessis

Posted by ronnydog on (December 3, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

Well done to S Africa but let's not get too carried away. Australia at full strength are just a shadow of their side of 2005 and the side in Perth was short of their 5 leading quicks. Probably among the worst bowling attacks Aust has ever fielded. Their performance v Eng in England was a much stronger effort and with India also in rebuilding phase only England will threaten SA over next 2 years. AUst will get worse before they get better. The form of Clarke and to a lesser extent Hussey have masked just how feeble the rest of the batting is.

Posted by jvrags on (December 3, 2012, 16:14 GMT)

These guys are thoroughbred professionals and they deserve to be the number 1 team in the world. The humility displayed is striking. I guess all the pain they have gone through being branded as "chokers" has made them more humble and realistic. Add to that their hard work and a fantastic coach in Gary, I am convinced that these guys are bound to be at the top for some time to come. Good luck, South Africa - you guys are champions and deservingly so. We Indians can learn from what you are and how you have approached getting to the top. Hats off to you!!!

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 16:00 GMT)

Great achievement to record a series win in Australia. not many teams have done it despite wining the odd test match.deserve to be the no.01 team for the moment.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 15:43 GMT)

Mazeltovs to one and all but will the crowds turn up to pay homage at the Tests? That, sadly, may be the acid test of Smith's legacy.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

The Proteas will dominate for years to come, our cricketing set-up at home is the best in the world and its only starting to bear fruit right now. No wonder we have a South African A side in England at the moment.

Posted by Harvey on (December 3, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

SA are worthy champions. Unlike what we saw in England, SA didn't even play particularly well in Australia. The rearguard effort in Adelaide to get a draw was certainly magnificent, but it shouldn't disguise the fact that they were in a perilous position for most of the game. The performance in Perth was better, although it against a pitifully weak bowling attack that was incapable of bowling anything even approaching a consistent line or length. SA are not yet a great side , and showed sufficient fallibilities in this series to keep the teams below them interested, but at the moment few would argue that they don't deserve their #1 slot.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 14:57 GMT)

Huge achievement by the boys, you've done us proud and have played the game in typical S.A spirit. The whole country iyazichenya ngani, mooi gespeel. The mase is a bonus lets not be disillusioned by the media, WE BEAT AUSTRALIA IN AUSTRALIA....AGAIN!! who can claim that? J Kallis u are a legend not in the eyes of other nations but before your people. Smith, Amla, insperational. Styn, Morkel, Philender, u took some stick but u finished the job. Even Duminy played a part, u got injured so Faffie could stick it to them LOL. To all the bright lights in this team, we salute you. WELL DONE.

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 3, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

I dont think any team can repeat the feat of beating Eng and Aus in back to back home series..SA has done something unique that no team can do anywhere at any time in near future..SA has well and truly joined the Windies of yesteryears and Aus in 2000s. Now all that is left is to beat India in India, which will happen the next time they tour there.

Posted by Dhanvanth on (December 3, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

I think SA might keep the mace for atleast 2 or 3 years(bcuz, next series are Pakistan New Zealand and India at home and no assignment on subcontinent countries) my opinion, the south African era has already started..! But they ought to erase off the 'chockers' tag sooner than later..

Posted by Hammond on (December 3, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

That legacy word again. 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. It won't be hard for England to regain lost ground.

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