Johannesburg - Cricket SA (CSA) praised the Proteas' squad on Monday for back-to back Test series victories in England to become the No 1 ranked Test side and retain the Basil d'Oliveira Trophy.
GALLERY: Proteas are No 1!The Proteas won the series decider by 51 runs at Lord's to take the three-match series 2-0.
They now have 120 ranking points compared to England's 117. They will have to defend their ICC ranking status when they travel to third-placed Australia for a three-match series in November and December.
This will be followed by two home Test series against New Zealand and Pakistan.
Monday's match was a personal triumph for virtually every member of the Proteas' starting XI, but Hashim Amla stood out for his century, which set up the defendable target of 346.
Vernon Philander made 96 invaluable runs, and finished the match with two wickets in two balls to finish with outstanding figures of five for 30 to earn his place on the famous Honours' Board in the visiting changing room.
It was Philander's seventh five-wicket haul in less than a year of Test cricket. He has taken 39 wickets this calendar year, which is just one less than the leader, Stuart Broad of England.
Jacques Kallis also pulled off a huge performance on the last day, capturing a vital wicket of Broad and taking two catches, including an absolute blinder to get rid of Jonathan Trott.
It was also a memorable match for Graeme Smith himself, captain for a world record 94th time and achieving a new landmark in winning successive Test series in England.
"The entire squad, including all the players and team management, deserve every accolade they will undoubtedly receive," said CSA acting CEO Jacques Faul.
"They have made the entire country extremely proud and it has been a wonderful period for South African sport, coming after the impressive performance of Team SA at the Olympic Games and Ernie Els's victory at the British Open Golf Championship.
"What has been particularly impressive has been the way they have performed when the pressure has been at its most extreme and this is a tribute to head coach Gary Kirsten and his assistants for the coolness under pressure they have brought to the squad.
"That coolness was a feature of Gary's own career and he has worked wonders in his first year in charge.
"What has been equally impressive has been the quality of their cricket and the way they have gone about their work.
"They have always played positive cricket throughout the series, particularly when Graeme made that inspiring declaration at Headingley when he simply wasn't prepared to settle for the soft option of a draw.
"Particular congratulations are due to Hashim Amla for his record triple century and his Man of the Match award in the First Test and for his Man of the Series award.
"The same applies to Vernon Philander who was Man of the Match at Lord's, and of course, to Graeme Smith for his captaincy world record."
The England Man of the Series award went to Matt Prior, who carried England so close to victory and was easily their most consistent player through the series.
ICC Test Championship (as of 20 August, after the England-South Africa series) rankings:
1, South Africa, 120. 2, England, 117. 3, Australia, 116. 4, Pakistan, 109. 5, India, 104. 6, Sri Lanka, 98. 7, West Indies, 90. 8, New Zealand, 80. 9, Bangladesh, 0.
Note: Zimbabwe are currently unranked, as they have played insufficient matches.