Faf du Plessis. Picture: REUTERS
Faf du Plessis. Picture: REUTERS

Whichever way you look at it, 492 is a lot of runs. But it was eight too few for some people at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

South Africa beat Australia by those 492 runs in the fourth Test, marking the fourth-biggest victory by any team in terms of runs in the 2,302 matches yet played in the format.

But, had Faf du Plessis’ team won by eight more runs, the reporters way up above the Wanderers would have been able to write that they had triumphed by “half a thousand” runs.

That sounds like a small matter, but after a series that swung from one extreme to the other we would have taken all the superlatives we could get.

Even so, South Africa’s success was momentous. 

For the first time since 1970, and for only the third time in 15 all Test series the teams have contested in this country, South Africa won the rubber.

And they had to bounce back to do it after losing the first match, at Kingsmead, by 118 runs.

In response, Du Plessis’ side reeled off victories at St George’s Park, by six wickets, and Newlands, by 322 runs, before the Wanderers win.

Aiden Markram scored two centuries and AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis one each.

No Australian reached three figures.

Kagiso Rabada was the top wicket-taker with 23 wickets at 19.26, and he was the only bowler in the series to claim two five-wicket hauls.

Difficult as the defeat will be for the Australians to swallow, it will be put in the shade by the storm of controversy and recrimination they will fly home to in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal that put them on the back foot during the Newlands Test.

This article first appeared on Times Select