Australian coach Darren Lehmann praised his side’s Test series win over South Africa as the greatest achievement of his coaching career.
Home-ground advantage has taken on a life of its own in Test cricket in recent years – in 2013, there were just two victories recorded by touring sides and both came in Zimbabwe.
Australia bucked the trend to rise to No.2 in the ICC’s Test rankings after inflicting the Proteas’ first Test series loss since the two teams butted heads five years ago.
“To win away from home (that makes it the greatest achievement), because that’s what we talk about,” Lehmann said.
“We know we’re going to play well at home – that’s a given, with the way we know all the pitches.”
Time will tell if the momentous series victory heralds a changing of the guard in Test cricket, as South Africa reel from the retirements of mainstays Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis in quick succession.
Of the XI who boosted Australia to a 245-run win in Cape Town on Wednesday, only Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson remain from the 2009 series.
For the likes of David Warner, who smashed three centuries on the tour and is in the form of his life, the 2-1 result will forever be a career highlight.
“I know tonight is going to be very special for all of us. It’s been a long time since we’ve won away from home,” said Warner, the obvious man of the match and series.
“I know it’s my first,” he added, reinforcing just how non-descript the 2-0 series win he played in the West Indies in 2012 was.
“We’re going to enjoy this and hopefully we can win many more away.”
Make no mistake, this was even more meritorious than the 2013-14 Ashes triumph.
England self combusted as Australia showed their potential on pitches they all knew well. South Africa crushed the visitors in Port Elizabeth and fought tooth and nail to hold out for a drawn series at Newlands.
“They outplayed us,” outgoing Proteas skipper Smith admitted.
Clarke suggested it was too early to say whether the 2-1 series win completed in dramatic circumstances on Wednesday was as special as a 5-0 annihilation of England.
“I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the Ashes series that we just played. But I think an honest assumption would be that it’s as good,” Clarke said.
“Any time that you beat the No.1 team in the world, that’s extremely special.”
By Rob Forsaith, AAP
IMAGE: Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann. (AAP Image/Matt Roberts)