Ponting hails 'special win'
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has branded his side's Test series victory over South Africa as one of his best ever.
Last Updated: 10/03/09 5:34pm
Victorious Australia captain Ricky Ponting insists he never doubted his side's ability to remain as the number one ranked nation after completing a series victory over South Africa in Durban.
The tourists skittled the home side out for 370 shortly before tea on the final afternoon - clinching a 175-run win which handed Ponting's team an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.
Australia came into the Test series on the back of a tough few months in which his side were beaten in India and then on their own turf by the Proteas.
The defeats raised doubts over not only Ponting's captaincy, but also whether the current crop of Australia players could cling onto their No.1 Test status.
But the Baggy Green's skipper answered any critics in emphatic style - averaging 49.50 with the bat en route to a series win he described as one of the best in his career.
"It's as special a win as I've experienced, certainly right up there with the 5-0 Ashes comeback win (in 2006/07) and winning World Cups," he said.
"We have not given South Africa an inch and I'm as happy as I have ever been in my career.
"A lot of people around the world thought this team wasn't capable of achieving this but I always felt the Australian summer was a lot closer than people thought and I knew we would be very competitive.
"Whenever you lose a couple of matches, to bounce back the way we did against a side that no one expected you to beat is always very special."
The series triumph is even more remarkable considering that Australia travelled to South Africa without a proven Test match spinner and one of their most inexperience squads for some time.
Opener Phillip Hughes, Marcus North and paceman Ben Hilfenhaus all made their debuts in the 162-run first-Test win in Johannesburg, while Peter Siddle and Andrew McDonald only had five caps between them heading into the tour.
New South Wales opener Hughes, 20, made hundreds in each innings at Kingsmead to go with his 75 at the Wanderers.
Ponting added: "The new guys in the team, Phillip Hughes, Marcus North, Ben Hilfenhaus, have been unbelievable for us.
"It's very exciting that guys like Phillip have done very well right from the start. His temperament is absolutely marvellous. When the bowlers were coming hard at him he just had a smile on his face and he would say he's loving it.
"That one-on-one contest is what Test cricket's all about."
South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who will miss the final Test after breaking a finger in his right hand, said: "Australia are a top-class unit who created pressure and sustained it for a long time and their individuals performed their roles very well.
"They have really bowled well as a unit, they have batted well as a unit and we just haven't been able to sustain that level of play.
"We fought hard in the second innings of both Tests but started indifferently with the ball in both.
"We did not do enough up front in both first innings. We left ourselves with too much to do."