Cape Town - The Proteas seemed dead and buried after slumping to a five-wicket defeat at Port Elizabeth in the second ODI against England.
That result left them 2-0 down in the series with three to play, and it appeared more than likely that South Africa would lose the ODI series as well as the Test series to their old rivals.
But three wins on the bounce secured the Proteas the unlikeliest of 3-2 series wins, and captain AB de Villiers thinks he knows what the difference was between the sides.
"I think the difference was probably something that I harp on a lot about … hunger. We showed that at SuperSport Park," the Proteas captain said after his undefeated century guided South Africa to a 5-wicket win in the series decider at Newlands on Sunday.
"I think we were maybe just a bit more hungry than England to really nail it down and to create history. To come back from 2-0 down, whether it is a record or not, in my eyes it is something really special."
De Villiers acknowledged that the Proteas had been in a "dark place" after having gone 2-0 down in the series.
"I think the belief was still there after the first two ODIs. I didn’t feel that we were that far off the ball," he said.
"If things happened differently we could have won the first two ODIs, but we still had to come back from a very difficult situation.
"Even though we were in a really dark place being 2-0 down I just asked the guys to keep believing and have that faith that we can come back in the series."
South Africa are now preparing for T20Is against England in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
"We’re going to have to start from scratch again," said De Villiers.
"We need to make sure we go into that World Cup (World Twenty20 next month) with the right amount of confidence. It’s set up very nicely for us over the next while to do exactly that."