South Africa 225 & 569 (Amla 196) beat
Australia 163 & 322 (Starc 68no) by 309 runs
Third Test, Perth
Scorecard | Day One | Day Two | Day Three
Post-Match Audio: Clarke | Ponting
More: Video | Ponting's Nerves
Report by John Pennington
South Africa handed Australia a 309-run thrashing on day four of the third and final Test in Perth to remain at the head of the ICC Test rankings.
Their position had been in doubt in the early part of the match but they came back strongly and dismissed Australia for 322 on the final day having asked them to chase 632 to win.
The wickets were shared among the frontline bowlers, Dale Steyn and Robin Peterson taking three apiece while there was a brace for both Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
Ricky Ponting made just eight in his farewell innings and half-centuries from Ed Cowan (53) and Mitchell Starc (68 not out from just 43 balls) were not enough for the home side.
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Australia resumed on 40 without loss but failed to add to their score before losing their first wicket when David Warner (29) was caught by Graeme Smith off Philander.
Shane Watson was next to go when he was caught by Smith off Morkel for 25 and Ponting's final Test innings was brief, lasting just 23 balls. Two boundaries was the sum total of his runs and he fell when he was caught by Jacques Kallis off Peterson.
Cowan had dropped anchor at the other end, taking 146 deliveries to reach his fourth Test half-century but he would make it as far as 53 before being caught by Dean Elgar off Dale Steyn to leave Australia 130 for four.
Michael Clarke (44) and Michael Hussey (26) advanced the score to 188 when Clarke was out - stumped, of all dismissals - to Peterson and Hussey fell soon after when he was caught behind off Steyn.
By now, Australia needed to break some long-standing world records or the weather to change dramatically but Matthew Wade's dismissal, caught Smith bowled Peterson for 10, in the very next over confirmed that neither was in the offing.
John Hastings smashed a couple of sixes in a quickfire 20 while Starc, batting at number 10, hammered nine fours and two sixes en route to his maiden Test half-century. It was an innings that put one in mind of the way that Mitchell Johnson, who had already been dismissed for three, started his Test career. One day Starc may well play an innings of substance that turns a match for his country, but today he was left with an insurmountable task.
He was given solid support from Nathan Lyon, however, whose 31 ensured that the South African celebrations - and the drinks - had to be put on ice. The pair added 97 for the final wicket and it was finally taken when Lyon was caught by Smith off Steyn having faced 43 balls.
The 1-0 series success is South Africa's second successive series win in Australia following up on their 2-1 series win in 2008. This particular victory came despite them only managing 225 in their first innings. Showing all of their fighting spirit, they dismissed Australia for 163 then scored 569 - Hashim Amla and de Villiers hitting big hundreds - to put the game out of Australia's sight.
Australia set the benchmark under Ponting's reign for domination of Test cricket. South Africa, a team against which he has often excelled, look to have learnt well and will now be looking forward to home series against Pakistan and New Zealand. Few will bet against them still being number one in the world for a while yet.
© Cricket World 2012
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