Five-fer: It's the hope that kills you

And so one of the most tense and exciting days of Test cricket comes to an end, with Australia preventing a final day miracle as the Proteas failed to secure a draw in honour of their retired skipper.

And so one of the most tense and exciting days of Test cricket comes to an end, with Australia preventing a final day miracle as the Proteas failed to secure a draw in honour of their retired skipper.

The game ended with just 4.3 overs to go, as Ryan Harris did the trick in the fading light to win it for the Aussies, after the hosts had batted all day for very few runs in the hopes of saving the series.

<b>1. It's The Hope That Kills You</b>

Look, no South African worth their salt will say they didn't care about what happened. In C365 Towers, we had guys who were just this morning spouting off about how the Proteas were going to be out by lunch, and they were the most gutted in the end.

'It would have been better if we were all out for 80,' said one office dweller. You see, it's the hanging on and the hoping that makes it so agonising, because in the end, all that will go down in the record books is 'Australia won by 245 runs'.

The hope was made even worse when Vernon Philander was given out, gloving one off a bouncer, but reviewed it. 'Madness,' everyone said. And then it was overturned, as his glove was not on the bat. Shoulders that had sagged were suddenly upright again. He ended on 51 not out.

Aussies will say that justice prevailed, and they may be right, while everyone else will be sad that Graeme Smith's career ended in a rare defeat. But the Aussies were the better side all game, and a draw would have been an injury time own goal defeat to them.

<b>2. The Heart Of A Ryano</b>

No-one watching Test cricket over the past few months will have a bad word to say about Ryan Harris. He overcame perpetual injuries for most of his career to rejoin the Aussies at the age of 35, in the Ashes in England, and he's never left.

He goes off now to have surgery on his knee, a loose bit of bone troubling him for ages, and you would never have known that from the way he has toiled for the Baggy Green, Test after Test, and winning this series for them.

If he doesn't play another Test, cricket will be poorer for it, as he combined Bresnan-like hard work with crucial wickets, and was the perfect foil for Mitchell Johnson in this series, softening batsmen up from the other end.

If he doesn't play again, he will end his Test career with 103 wickets in 24 games, at an average of 22.56, and an economy rate under three. Good luck replacing him and his lion heart.

<b>3. Hypocritical much?</b>

A major talking point on day five, aside from the controversial overturn/handbags at dusk, was the fact that the Aussies were seemingly reprimanded by the on-field umpires for 'sharp practice' AKA fiddling with the ball.

The irony was not lost on viewers as the fielders threw the ball in from the outfield and bounced it on the pitch in order to scuff it up. They weren't even subtle about it, amusingly contrasting against their outrage about the same matter in the wake of PE.

<b>4. Diverse De Villiers</b>

AB de Villiers was visibly gutted at the end of the game, having spent nearly six hours in the middle, arching over two days, and scoring 43 runs at a strike rate of less than 19. He was the picture of focus for much of the day.

De Villiers is such a talent in all areas, given he can take a T20 game away from an IPL side, balance a beautiful innings in an ODI, and then bat at snail's pace for a day of Test cricket. His ability to switch gears is almost unmatched.

He won't care about this, but this game was the first time since Adelaide, when the Proteas batted for two days to save the game, that he did not score at least a fifty in the game. That's 12 matches with a 50-plus score.

<b>5. Family First</b>

As everyone knew, this was Graeme Smith's final match for the Proteas, in any format, and he had cited having a young family as one of the reasons for his departure. It emerged on day five that his daughter Cadence had been in hospital for much of the series.

The one-year-old had apparently burned herself somehow (boiling water, allegedly) during the PE Test, and at 8am on Tuesday morning, two hours ahead of day four, Smith found himself in a Cape Town hospital, watching her being wheeled into surgery.

The wee thing was at the ground in daddy's arms at the end of the match, neatly bandaged up, but one cannot help but think, 'No wonder he didn't seem focused in his final knock,' given she was in hospital.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>