Cape Town - What the South African cricket team has achieved over a sustainable period of time has been nothing short of remarkable, Proteas coach Gary Kirsten said on Wednesday.
"It's been an incredible year," Kirsten said after the team's return from a Test series victory over Australia.
"We set our sights on becoming the No 1 team in the world and then to hold that position."
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This year the Proteas won a home series against Sri Lanka and won away series in New Zealand, England, and more recently in Australia for a haul of four series victories.
Kirsten said the team wanted to leave a legacy and it was "a very special occasion for the Proteas and South African cricket, and should not be taken lightly".
"They’re a very mature bunch of individuals and play for each other," he said.
"They play for the (South African) badge in a way I’ve never seen before."
Captain Graeme Smith believed the test group had matured and was capable of handling whatever challenges came their way.
"There’s a maturity around the group and it goes into the preparation as well," Smith said.
"There’s a maturity in our knowledge of how to be successful, even when away from home and that has been the biggest thing."
Smith said the players had shown they had the skills to adapt to all conditions.
When injuries occurred, Kirsten said, the replacements did extremely well even though they did not have much experience at Test level.
"When Faf (Du Plessis) came in for the injured JP (Duminy) we were all surprised how well he did," Kirsten said.
"He played beyond expectations, and the same could be said of Robin Petersen, who gave us something special when he came in for Imran Tahir.
"All credit to the players who not only saved matches, but who performed in high-pressure situations. They have also get credit for the dominant way they competed right to the end."
Smith had earlier this year indicated that he was giving the matter of captaincy a great deal of thought, but he said on Wednesday it was not something he had pondered recently.
"As long as I feel that I can add value as a captain within this environment and lead the guys in the best way possible, then there is no reason for me to walk away," Smith said.