So South Africa have finally won a test series in Australia. Even if they don't win the 3rd test they deserve to be number 1 in the world. They have won 9 out of 10 series in the last 2 years. The other series was a draw against India, which would have been a win if the BCCI hadn't ordered one of the worst pitches ever for the last test, which surprisingly enough India won.
Smith may not be as brilliant a captain as Mark Taylor or Stephen Fleming but gets the job done. More importantly than any field placing or bowling changes he leads from the front. For SA to have any chance in this series he had to overcome his previous batting problems against Australia. He has over 250 runs in the series so far despite batting with a destroyed elbow and has done the job he needed to do. Throughout the year he has scored crucial 4th innings runs and managed more at the MCG to get his team close enough to the target for the fear to disappear.
This is now his team - it's taken 5 years of working within a system of targets and quotas to reach a point where the team that takes the field is there on merit and includes coloured players of outstanding talent - Prince, Duminy and Ntini as well as Asian descent - Amla. The senior players such as Boucher and Kallis support him completely and the newer players into the team have learnt from his approach and are now fearless and confident.
The Proteas have a well balanced batting line up, a brilliant keeper and a bowling attack capable of taking 20 wickets on most pitches in the world. Morne Morkel finally showed what he is capable of on day 4 with spells that were consistent and aggressive, Dale Steyn is the best quick around and Ntini and Kallis will always get wickets. Harris may not be the greatest spinner ever but he takes wickets and can keep things tight.
2009 looks like being a good one for cricket - SA looking to hold onto the number 1 spot, India continuing their run under Dhoni, Sri Lanka coming from nowhere to be rather good, England responding to KP's pushing and Australia fighting back.