"I would like to sit here today and speak about Morne Morkel's last Test match, about us as a team on the verge of creating history, and we're spending so much time talking about other stuff." - Faf du Plessis

Sorry, skipper, but the first 15 minutes of your 18-minute press conference had to be all about everything else. And then after you left, pretty much everything you said was drowned in Darren Lehmann's tears. We've seen two people cry in this series now, none of them from the South African side.

But over the next five days, our eyes will struggle to stay dry as Morne Morkel runs in for the last time. Mostly, those will be tears of regret because the truth is that we probably never appreciated Morkel as much we should have. Throughout his career, we demanded he show more aggression and take more wickets. Ironically, now the one thing we are all calling for in the fourth Test and beyond is kindness.

This cricket tour has become too much of a circus and not in the fun ways. From the incident on the stairwell in Durban to the lives that have changed as we got to Johannesburg, the one word that sums it up is drama and we all seem to have reached the point where we want a bit less of it, especially South Africa.

'This series has been so draining," du Plessis said. "We as a team are feeling the blowout as well. We're actually feeling drained because there is so much stuff going on that I cannot imagine what it feels like in their dressing room."

Hollow, maybe? Empty? As though they would rather be anywhere but here? Or maybe determined? Driven to send their coach Darren Lehmann off with something to be proud of? Desperate to prove their ability to find reverse swing was not only a result of ball-tampering and that their bowlers really are as good as Ottis Gibson has said they are?

If that's what is foremost in Australia's minds (and it probably isn't), then they won't want to know that they are not going to get a traditional Johannesburg surface to make merry on. Despite the venue's reputation for producing as much, if not more, pace and bounce than the WACA, the Wanderers is on tenterhooks. It too, faces a ban, after being rated "poor" by the ICC for the January Test against India. As a result, the groundsman is likely to err on the side of kindness too, with less grass and less moisture, so much so that South Africa will play a spinner for the first time since 2013.

"Obviously I didn't get involved with the Wanderers groundsman," du Plessis joked, after the January pitch was ill-prepared following team requests for a spicy surface. "It looks like a safe wicket. It looks a bit on the brown side, drier than it normally is here. Normally there is a tinge of grass. It looks a lot browner. It doesn't normally spin here at all, so we perhaps think that it might because it's quite dry. I think maybe day four or five we will see some up and down [bounce]."

The general feeling is that there may not even be a day four and five. Wanderers' Tests have ended early recently but this time it may be the opposition's mindset, rather the conditions, that may result in an early end. It could even be said that the outcome is considered a foregone conclusion, given the chaos that engulfed the Australians, but South Africa can't think along those lines.

"It's important for me that we don't lose our mental edge because this is a huge game for us," du Plessis said.

Huger than huge.

South Africa have not beaten Australia in a home series since readmission and because of South Africa's segregated past, the victories in 1966 and 1970 are often banished to the "those-things-we-don't-talk-about" section of history. In fact, du Plessis had to be told of those wins by AB de Villiers, "because history is not my best subject", he said after Newlands, and coach Gibson wasn't sure of the record South Africa had over Australia at home.

But yes, they can create history, a history all South Africans will consider themselves part of if they win and yes, Faf, we will all talk about that. Eventually.

When the dust settles and eyes dry, we may remember this series for Morkel and for de Villiers and for a South African side that came back from 162 all out in Durban to create their own legacy. But first they have to go and do it.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent