As Shane Watson walked off the WACA having been caught at slip, it began to dawn on the fans who was next in. Spectators sitting on the grassy hill on the east side of the ground jumped to their feet to acknowledge Ricky Ponting, and the moment was not lost on Graeme Smith. He organised his men into a guard of honour near the pitch, and they were joined by the not-out batsman Ed Cowan, the 12-strong guard clapping Ponting as he walked through for his 287th and final Test innings. Ponting shook Smith's hand as he made his way through the guard of honour and it was a genuinely touching moment as one of the toughest cricketers of the modern era acknowledged another.
Ponting walked off the field for the final time as a Test cricketer with a batting average of 51.85. He was replaced at the wicket by Michael Clarke, who had two balls to face before the lunch break. He drove Robin Peterson through cover for four and then dispatched another boundary straight down the ground. The eight runs meant Clarke also went to lunch with a career batting average of 51.85.
Ed Cowan is not renowned for clearing the boundary but he did so with a slog over the long-on rope when Robin Peterson served up a full toss that was asking for punishment. It was Cowan's first six in Test cricket, and in his tenth match he joined one of Australia's all-time greats, Neil Harvey, who only ever hit one six in his career. The list of all-time six hitters features some surprising names, perhaps most notably the so-called "corpse with pads on", Bill Lawry, who struck 15 sixes in his 67-Test career. Lawry's fellow commentator Ian Chappell might not want to know it, but he hit the same number of sixes as Lawry - but took eight more Tests to do it.
Morne Morkel was on the receiving end of one of the cutest acts of brotherly love a few years ago. When both he and Albie were named among the five SA Cricketers' of the Year, Albie posed for a picture giving his younger (but taller) brother a kiss on the cheek. Today, Morne passed some of the love on. When Dale Steyn drew Michael Hussey into the drive and accounted for Australia's sixth wickets, he let out a war cry. Morkel and AB de Villiers responded with only affection. Morkel gave Steyn a series of pecks on the check and de Villiers handed out some too as South Africa celebrated knowing they would remain No.1.
Australia were hurtling towards one of their worst defeats in Test cricket but Mitchell Starc provided late entertainment with a quickfire 68. As though providing a sneak preview to the Big Bash League, which starts on Friday, Starc cleared the boundary with ease, his best shot the swing over mid-on off Vernon Philander with the new ball. Starc also took eight wickets in the match, with six in the second innings, but still ended up on the losing side.
Dale Steyn promised a show in the final Test and delivered with seven wickets in the match, including the one that ended it. After a defiant stand of 87 runs by the last pair, Steyn got Nathan Lyon to prod and one and Graeme Smith took his fifth catch of the innings. Steyn celebrated on the pitch with arms out and then jogged to the non-strikers' end to grab a stump and used it as a bat to mime a slog over midwicket.