South Africa back on the moral high ground

Reputation of Australia Cricket team comes in question now - Voges (3:30)

Adam Voges and Adam Collins discussing ball-tampering incident happened on Day 3 of 3rd test match between SA v AUS. (3:30)

South Africa will be satisfied. Not just with their position on the field - they are 294 runs ahead of Australia with AB de Villiers undefeated on 51 - but with their standing off it. They are back on the moral high ground.

Australia have admitted to ball-tampering, the same offence Faf du Plessis was found guilty of when South Africa toured Australia in late 2016, the same offence some sections of the press used to label du Plessis a cheat. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

By the time Cameron Bancroft and Steven Smith were ready to front up, South Africa had already left the ground. Their parting comments on day three came from the innocence of Aiden Markram, who described the whirlwind of events in this series as both "crazy" and "cool".

He may not have felt the same way had the reverse swing become more rampant and Australia's attack got more wickets. For now, it appears that Bancroft's actions of using sticky yellow tape to try and secure rough granules of sand to try and scuff up the ball did not have much effect. The umpires did not see a need to change the ball. While some South Africa batsmen survived, others thrived to stretch the lead towards 300.

It's crazy that Australia resorted to such a tactic. Crazier because they have been so forthright about insisting they play hard but fair and have now been shown up as disingenuous. Australia do play hard but in this case they were also willing to play unfair and all that will do is make South Africa feel that their chances of beating Australia in a home series for the first time since readmission have never been higher.

Australia were panicking as South Africa's lead grew. They knew that if this match was lost, the series could not be won and they wanted victory at all costs. That much has been obvious since they arrived in South Africa.

Australia have tried everything from ambush marketing tactics to have the stump microphones turned down, presumably so they can hurl abuse at South Africa's players, to admitting they would try to provoke Kagiso Rabada, who was on the cusp of being suspended, into committing another offense. However, they have not been entirely successful. The stump mics are still up and the verbals are still being heard. Rabada has had his ban overturned and though he is playing in the Newlands Test, he is one demerit point away from a ban. But still, South Africa are in control in the third Test, leaving Australia with no choice but to resort to unsavoury tactics that have left horns on their heads and halos over South Africa's.

Remember that it was David Warner who had accused de Villiers of using the wicketkeeping gloves to tamper with the ball when Australia were in South Africa four years ago and was fined 15% of his match fee as a result. Later in the series, Faf du Plessis, who picked up the ball while batting to pass it back to the fielders, said the Australian fielders reacted like a "pack of wild dogs". And Dale Steyn and Michael Clarke were involved in an incident which Steyn said six months later he had not forgiven Clarke for.

Though it was never put on the record, the general understanding is that Clarke had called Steyn a cheat. Then, in 2016, the "Mintgate" saga happened and there has been a build-up of pressure between the two teams in the past few series. Something had to give and from the beginning it has seemed that thing would be Australia.

Sympathy was with South Africa from the start, when CCTV footage showed Warner needing to be physically restrained from attacking Quinton de Kock in the stairwell in Durban. But since then, Australia have been victims of a campaign directed at their players' partners, and Warner's wife Candice in particular, by sections of the South African crowd. Darren Lehmann has, his own transgressions aside, called the shaming of partners "disgraceful," and put the ball in South Africa's court to take action against those who seek to cause trouble in the game. That should still happen but the trouble, in another form, is now Australia.

Instead of gloat, South Africa will do well to remember that they have not always been innocent, especially when it comes to ball-tampering. They have three convictions in the last five years - du Plessis when he rubbed the ball on his zipper in the UAE in 2013 and then again in 2016 and Vernon Philander for picking the seam in Sri Lanka in 2014 - but they are winning this fight. To continue winning, they have to stay on the right side of the line and watch as Australia have crossed it.