South Africa Cricket Team <sa-cricket>
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|SA team stunned by reception!!!||233 weeks ago|
SA team stunned by reception!!
Dale Steyn looked as if he had just been hooked for six by a number 11, while AB de Villiers' eyes were as wide as if he had just hit a killer two-iron to within a foot of the flag such was the magnificent reception the South African cricketers received upon their arrival at Johannesburg International Airport on Saturday.
In recognition of their epic test and limited-overs series triumphs in Australia, more than a thousand people would go to OR Tambo International Airport to welcome the all-conquering heroes home, with the team looking stunned by the tumultous celebration.
The South Africans were not only giant-killers on the field, but also won acclaim in Australia as a top-class group of men who carried themselves, and the South African flag, with enormous dignity.
"To see Graeme Smith walking in front of the Noble Stand in Sydney, which gave us all sorts of abuse the last time we were there, and get a standing ovation was phenomenal. I think we won them over through our humility, we were extremely humble when we won and how you handle both winning and losing is very important and the team were superb on and off the field. We showed a lot of respect for Australia and I think they recognised that," coach Mickey Arthur said.
"Our success was down to the leadership of both captains [Graeme Smith in the tests and Johan Botha in the ODIs], but it also calls for an incredible work ethic, courage and commitment from the team and they left Australia as heroes, both on and off the field, and we know how hard it is to earn Australians' respect.
"A couple of years ago, when we arrived back here after losing in the semifinals of the World Cup, we had to leave via the back door. But this has been a helluva reception and a very humbling experience. We left Perth this morning as a very proud team and now we are even prouder, the magnitude of what we have done has really hit us after this fantastic reception."
Arthur warned, however, that Australia are still a class outfit and the South Africans would face a tough return series at home.
"Australia will be back here in three weeks and we're under no illusions that they are really hurting and they are going to be far angrier. For the first time ever, we will go into a series against them as favourites and it will be interesting to see how we handle that. With success comes expectations and we'll be playing in front of our home crowds, so that will be a lot more difficult. But I'm confident the players have it in them to repeat the success," Arthur said.
The coach said the successes in Australia were due to careful planning.
"A couple of years ago, Graeme and I had a long, hard look at the brand of cricket we wanted to play and where we wanted to go. We've been consistent in selection and we've earmarked guys to come in and do certain roles. The guys have been in the environment for a while and that continuity allows them to do well, it doesn't happen by chance," Arthur said.
Botha, who had a massive load placed on his shoulders when he had to take the reins after Smith returned home injured after the test series, was all smiles on Friday night.
"I don't want to talk about how I felt before the first one-day international in Melbourne, I'd rather talk about how I feel now!
"I'm very proud, the guys all supported me very well. It was a tough act to follow Graeme - I certainly wasn't going to go out and bat with a broken hand at any stage! - but the MCG was a massive game for us and the guys pulled together with Albie Morkel winning it at the death to ensure we finished on top," Botha said.
Smith paid tribute to the performance of the team in winning the limited-overs series 4-1 in his absence.
"It was a superb display in the one-dayers and the team have done a superb job both on and off the field. It was a real team effort and, as a captain, that is the most wonderful feeling," Smith said.
Many Thanks Loveee,
Thee South African Cricket Team!
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