South Africa's Dale Steyn (L) is congratulated by team
mates after dismissing Australia's Mike Hussey on day four
of the third cricket test in Perth. REUTERS/Stringer
South Africa have asserted their position as the best
team in the world with an emphatic 309-run victory over
Australia in the third test to clinch the hard-fought series
1-0 and ruin Ricky Ponting's farewell.
Ponting had been hoping to sign off in his 168th test with a
victory that would have allowed Australia to leapfrog the
Proteas and return to the summit of the game they dominated
for so much of his career.
They never looked getting anywhere near the winning target of
632 they had been set, however, and were bowled out for 322
in their second innings shortly before the scheduled close of
Appropriately, it was the South African bowling unit which
sealed the victory after finally firing in Perth to turn the
series around with a devastating spell on the morning of day
two at the WACA.
"Day two for me has got to go down as one of the highlights
of South African cricket," skipper Graeme Smith, whose team
are unbeaten in their last nine tests on the road and in away
series since 2006, told reporters.
"Then today to take 10 wickets and put our marker firmly down
in Australia was special."
The hosts had had the better of day one as well as the drawn
tests in Brisbane and Adelaide but the South Africans struck
back with a vengeance to become the first team since West
Indies in the 1980s and 1990s to win consecutive series Down
"It's been outstanding what we've been able to achieve,"
"I think for us to win back-to-back series in England and
Australia ... is the proudest achievement of my career."
Australia captain Michael Clarke was named Man-of-the-Series
for his double centuries in Brisbane and Adelaide and praised
his team for taking the Proteas so close.
"I don't want to take anything away from South Africa," he
"They showed why they are the number one team in the world.
When they had momentum, they went with it and when they
didn't, they worked their backsides off to get it back."
The South Africans got the best possible start to the day on
Monday with two early wickets which brought 37-year-old
Ponting to the crease for his 287th and final test innings 45
minutes before lunch.
Welcomed on to the field by a guard of honour of applauding
South Africans, he lasted just 40 minutes and 23 balls before
the same players were shaking his hand as he headed back to
the pavilion with eight runs to his name.
Two fours, the first a vintage pull, closed his test tally at
13,378 runs for an average of 51.85 from 168 matches - the
second highest run count in the long history of the game.
Spinner Robin Peterson (3-127) will go down in the record
books as the last bowler to dismiss the Tasmanian, tempting
Ponting into an attempted cut which ended up as an edge into
the hands of Jacques Kallis in the slips.
The former Australian captain took off his helmet and raised
his arms to accept the applause of the crowd before taking
his leave from the field where he made his test debut 17
"I probably had in mind a bit more of a fairytale ending than
I've had here," he said in an emotional news conference.
"Graeme's gesture, that sort of thing will live with me
Opener Warner (29) had lasted just two deliveries in the
bright morning sunshine before edging the ball to Smith in
the slips off the bowling of Vernon Philander.
Watson (25) was the next to depart with Smith again taking
the catch after Morne Morkel had softened the all-rounder up
with some short bowling.
Ed Cowan outlasted Ponting and had just reached his half
century when he fell for 53, leaving Michael Clarke and Mike
Hussey to try and build the sort of partnership they enjoyed
when Australia were in the ascendancy in the first two tests.
It was not to be, though, as Clarke (44) was stumped charging
down the wicket to Peterson with Hussey (26) and Matthew Wade
(10) soon following him back to the dressing room.
The tea break only delayed the departure of Mitchell Johnson
(three) and John Hastings (20) but Mitchell Starc (68 not
out) and Nathan Lyon wagged the tail with some vigour in a
10th wicket partnership of 87.
Starc showed his top order how they should have been done and
claimed his maiden half century in 32 balls, scoring nine
fours and two sixes in a fluent innings before Lyon was
caught by Smith off the bowling of Dale Steyn (3-72).