"Obvious this Test match had a different feel to it, there was not as (much) competitiveness and other stuff as the other Test matches before it", Du Plessis said.
Kagiso Rabada, the youngest of the lot at 22, chose to be that man as he picked up 11 wickets in the match - his fourth 10-wicket match haul in Test cricket - and helped his team register an emphatic six-wicket win to level the series. While he was dismissed for a first-ball duck in the first innings, du Plessis ensured that he didn't sign the series off with a string of low scores and scored a match-defining century in the second innings (120), combining with Dean Elgar (81) for a 170-run partnership for the fourth wicket that put the game well beyond Australia's reach. Paine admitted that South Africa had outplayed Australia after losing the first Test in Durban, "We can't hide from the fact that purely on skill they outplayed us".
The ball-tampering scandal has changed plenty of lives and generated enormous debate about the team's conduct, which new captain Paine has already changed. "I honestly felt we were going to be a lot better than we were but it (the scandal) probably had a lot more of an effect on guys than we thought", he added.More news: Russia: Spy poisoning 'in interests' of United Kingdom govt
Australia won the first Test of the series before the hosts hit back to claim their first Test series win at home to the Aussies since readmission with a 3-1 result.
South Africa had failed in seven home series against Australia since being welcomed back in 1991 to global cricket. If they've said it, it means it needs to change. "We nearly went from motivated to motivated/angry to try and turn it around".
In nearly every statistic, South Africa dominated the Ashes winners: Four batsmen made centuries in the series, with opener Aiden Markram collecting two.More news: Tributes pour in for darts legend Eric Bristow dead at 60
Resuming on 88-3, the tourists slumped to 119 all out before lunch on the final day as Vernon Philander took a Test-best 6-21. No Australian made a hundred.
Australia peppered South Africa with verbals in that match, during which Nathan Lyon was charged by the match referee for his "ball drop" celebration after completing Warner's run out of de Villiers. The three highest run-scorers of the series were South Africans. The run out denied South Africa's Morne Morkel one more wicket in his last test before retiring.
It proved an ineffective warning, with Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft all being charged over their roles in the ball-tampering scandal that marred the third Test. "I'm obviously very emotional but it's been a great journey", said Morkel, 33. Not one day did I not enjoy coming to the nets and warm-ups.More news: Meet Qaidi No.106, Salman Khan of Jodhpur Central Jail