The hosts bounced back in style after losing the first Test, recording victories in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg to win their first home Test series against Australia since the end of apartheid. Instead of captain Smith, now the captaincy went to Tim Paine and under his charge, Australia started to play the 4th Test against South Africa.
With a historic series win over Australia, South Africa bid adieu to their fast-bowler Morne Morkel, who brought an end to his 11-year-long worldwide career.
Morkel finished with a career-best 9 for 110 in the third Test at Newlands, while claimed two wickets in the concluding Test as the Proteas beat Australia to win a series in home for the first time since 1970.
The victory was secured with their biggest ever win by runs in Tests, a 492-run humiliation of a scandal-hit Australia at The Wanderers.
A review showed Lyon to be short as De Kock removed the bails, a woeful ending that summed up Australia's day, Test and series. "It will be good for guys to get home, take a deep breath after everything that's happened and, in the next couple of weeks, start to focus on our next 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.
The Handscomb wicket was his 50th against Australia, but he wasn't done.
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I just spoke to Craig not long after the game and asked him what he saw. And we don't have a championship to fight for. "I think it's great".
"We were extremely motivated before this series and up for the challenge, but there was definitely a shift in mindset after that first test", du Plessis said. "They went nearly from motivated to motivated slash angry and they were determined to turn it around".
"Since then, walking on the field for South Africa every time was unbelievable".
A match and series victory over rivals Australia was the cherry on top for the Morkel who is retiring from global cricket across all formats of the game. The South African pacers averaged 18.59 runs per wicket, while Australia's pacers conceded 32.13 runs per wicket.
As the cricketing summer ended for South Africa, one of the country's favourite cricketers, Morne Morkel, bowed out of global cricket with 309 wickets to his name.
Morkel said: "When you play in front of your home crowd, like at Newlands and here for the first couple of days, it is awesome".
"I remember coming out to bat with him in Durban and there was a lot of chirp that he only scores runs against the small nations", du Plessis told reporters. "I've still got love for the game".