Australia saved the top spot in the ICC Test rankings by the skin of their teeth by winning the final match against South Africa of their series in Sydney. This Friday, a similar challenge awaits them in Perth; defeat in the final one-dayer would mean South Africa go to the top of the one-day rankings.
Thir arms have raised in triumph, in coloured clothes or whites; South Africa have been much the better team over the Australian summer and if they can breast the tape ahead of Australia in Perth, the Proteas will knock the three-time defending World Champions off their heady pedestal.
"A Test series win and then a final one-dayerwin (in Australia) is what every cricketer can dream of and it's come true for us. We have worked very hard to achieve it." said AB de Villiers, the man of the match of the Adelaide ODI where South Africa sealed the series 3-1.
Australia have been surprisingly mediocre so far in the series. Not a single century has been by their batsmen in the the four games. The top order has fired occasionally but the men in the middle have failed to build on those starts.
"We need a bit of experience down the order but the guys who are coming in have played a lot of first class and domestic cricket. We just have to learn from our mistakes," said Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
South Africa have had many heroes to fall back on through this contest. But the unheralded star has been their stand-in captain - Johan Botha. Stepping into the big shoes of Graeme Smith, Botha has led calmly and leads the wicket-takers tally with seven scalps.
"I am very proud; the guys have supported me. In the process (of the series win), everybody got excited and had a rush. In the ODIs, everything has been brilliant," said Botha.
With a series against New Zealand starting immediately after South Africa leave, Australia know victory in Perth will be critical and not just because it will keep them at the top of the rankings tree for now.