Perth - The Proteas' tour of Australia that had gone from good to great when they clinched the ODI series against Australia at Adelaide last Monday went up another level to “absolutely incredible” when they completed a 4-1 rout of their hosts at the WACA on Friday night.
In the process the Standard Bank ODI squad seized the No. 1 ranking on the Reliance Mobile ICC ratings table from Australia although such is the congested nature of touring these days that their reign as No. 1 is unlikely to last very long.
Australia host New Zealand in a five-match series starting at the WACA on Sunday and they are expected to return to winning form then.
Coach Mickey Arthur said the big challenge for the Proteas would be two-fold. “Everybody will want to beat us now and we will have to prove that we are up for the challenge under all conditions. We still have room for improvement but I have been hugely encouraged by the way this young squad has developed and we now have a lot of depth in all positions.
“The other challenge is to meet both our own expectations and those of our supporters back home. We will start as favourites in both the Castle Test and MTN ODI series against Australia and we have never been in this position before.
“But I am confident that the players will meet their country's expectations and build on what has been an incredible two months here in Australia.”
Speaking after the 39-runs victory captain Johan Botha said the Proteas had again managed to win the big points as they had done throughout the series. “Hashim Amla (named man of the match) and AB (de Villiers) set it up for us with their big partnership (their second century stand in successive matches) and then JP Duminy played a brilliant innings (an unbeaten 60 off 42 balls) to set a substantial target.
“Having such a big total behind us made it easier for Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell on their respective debuts and they both did very well.
“The Australians weren't prepared to attack Morne Morkel which created opportunities for Lonwabo to take wickets up front.”
Albie Morkel was named man of the series after playing match-winning innings at both Melbourne and Sydney. He said his success in the series had given his confidence a big boost although he felt that there was still work to put into his bowling.