Ultimately the South Africans were the Aussies' equals but too many slips cost them the series.
South Africa has made a sound comeback with a three-wicket victory in the second one-day international against Australia.
Expect fireworks and sledging in the ODI series between two of the top cricket teams in the world.
Young talent Theunis de Bruyn has plenty of people talking – and he is not shy to do some straight talking himself.
Driven not only by versatility but also a rarely seen creativity, De Villiers should be a tonic for any potential selection headaches.
The Proteas "won rusty" at the start of their New Zealand tour, but win they did.
Hashim Amla faced a stern test in his first series as captain after SA lost three key wickets against a Sri Lankan bowling attack in the second Test.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel ripped through the Sri Lanka batting lineup to seal a 153-run win on Sunday.
South Africa coach Russell Domingo on Saturday denied his team was earning a reputation for ball tampering.
At the moment, the brand is lacking although "Figjam" Dean Elgar might just fit the bill.
Hashim Amla's appointment as permanent skipper signals changing times for the Proteas.
Aggressive hundreds from Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers gave the SA cricket team their first ODI series win over Sri Lanka on the island.
Why Tahir is so expensive and ineffective in Tests but a wicket-taker in limited-overs cricket.
Hashim Amla's appointment as SA's Test cricket captain is likely to be ratified next week in a surprise turnaround from his usual reluctance to lead.
The Proteas ODI captain and the world's leading Test match bowler are two of the five nominees for the CSA's main award - Cricketer of the Year.
Proteas coach Russell Domingo has defended his team's strategic decisions at the World T20, despite widespread criticism following the team's loss.
Virat Kohli hit an imperious half century to help India upstage South Africa by six wickets in the second semifinal to cruise into the Twenty20 final.
The South African cricket team must stay in the game at the Twenty20 World Cup, however important the opening power play may be.