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By unknown | Apr 20, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The fifth MTN one-day international against Australia at the Wanderers on Friday brought to an end one of the most successful periods in South African cricketing history.

The fifth MTN one-day international against Australia at the Wanderers on Friday brought to an end one of the most successful periods in South African cricketing history.

It all started in Pakistan in September 2007, when South Africa won both the Test and ODI series, and ended with Australia's tour of South Africa.

During that time, South Africa won home Test series against New Zealand, the West Indies, and Bangladesh. They also distinguished themselves with away victories against Bangladesh, England and Australia and a drawn series against India. The only disappointment was the two-one loss to Australia at home.

The Proteas' ODI record has been even more remarkable. South Africa have won the last 13 home ODI series, losing just eight of the last 54 ODIs played at home. Abroad, they have also been successful, with just one series loss, against England last year.

The last home series they lost was against Australia in 2001, but since then have won three consecutive series against their greatest rivals - two at home and one away.

South Africa ended this period securely on top of the ICC ODI rankings, and in second place in the Test rankings, behind Australia.

After 17 months of almost constant touring, the Proteas parted company on Saturday morning, with some heading for their Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, and others just going home for a well-earned rest. The rest will not be a long one though, as the second ICC World Twenty20 Cup will be played in England in June.

For coach Mickey Arthur there is time with his wife and daughters in East London, but also time to reflect on what South Africa have achieved.

"We've moved forward and made some great strides over the last 18 months," he said. "It's been a wonderful summer of cricket. We've tested each other to the hilt - the competition's been fantastic.

"I'll look back on it with a lot of pride - pride in the way the team's performed, pride in the way we've moved forward as a side, and pride in the new players we've brought in and the exciting brand of cricket that we've played."

Arthur said he was very satisfied with the progress made by the ODI squad.

"If you look back to where we were after England (South Africa lost 4-0) to where we are now, I think there's been an unbelievable turnaround. I'm not surprised, because I've always believed in the ability of the players, but what has given me a great deal of satisfaction is that we have created a new brand, we've developed a squad with so many options, and the young players we've brought in have delivered.

Arthur and captain Graeme Smith are now looking ahead to the World Cup in the sub-continent in 2011, and much of the team's focus in the next two years will be on preparing the one-day squad for the attempt to win cricket's biggest one-day prize.

Arthur said although the one-day squad was ahead of where he thought it would be, there was still a lot of work to be done.

"One area we can definitely improve on is bowling at the death," said Arthur. "I thought we bowled particularly well up front through the series.

With Dale (Steyn) and Parnie (Wayne Parnell) we had the ability to swing the ball, we had some genuine pace, and we had a left- and a right-armer.

"The good thing for me when you look at the players we've used is the options we have available to us. There are batting options to 10; there are seven bowling options, whatever side we put out.

If you want to put the extra seamer, we have the armoury, and if we want to play two or three spinners, we have that as well. Options are key, and we have that now." - Sapa


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