Melbourne: With five wins, five losses and four draws in 2008, Australia will have to strive to be recognized as the number one team in world cricket again, and that objective could take a couple of years to reach, belives captain Ricky Ponting.
Ponting said that having lost a home series after 16 years should not be reason to chop and change a squad that has been used to winning against all opposition.
Referring to the two-nil loss to South Africa, Fox Sports quoted Ponting as saying: "We've all got to remain upbeat. There's no time for panic or as Andrew Hilditch said, chop and change."
"A lot of players in the team aren't accustomed to losing Test matches let alone Test series. We've had an amazing run as a team ... we have dominated world cricket for a long period of time. I'm still very positive and very sure that with some of these younger guys coming on that in a few years time we can get back up there and be dominating world cricket once again," he added.
"The gap between our best cricket and our worst cricket has been too big, and we have to make that smaller if we want to win the next Test and if we want to stay in that top group of Test-playing nations," he said further.
Ponting said that he nurtured a hope that his side can dominate world cricket again, but only "in a few years time".
Australia are still technically ranked the No.1 side in the world, but they will concede the ranking to South Africa if Graeme Smith''s side complete a 3-0 series sweep in the third Test in Sydney from Saturday.
South Africa cruised to victory at the MCG an hour after lunch on day five, reaching 1-183 to win by nine wickets. Smith made 75 while opener Neil McKenzie was 59 not out.
Hashim Amla hit the winning runs, prompting his teammates to run onto the field in celebration at South Africa''s first Test-series triumph on Australian soil.
The result consigned Australia to their first Test series loss at home since 1992-1993, and their second series loss in three - having lost in India before beating lowly New Zealand.
Australia, meanwhile, will go into the Sydney Test with uncapped trio Doug Bollinger from New South Wales, Tasmania''s Ben Hilfenhaus and Victoria''s Andrew McDonald.
Seventeen-Test player Mitchell Johnson, three-Test quick Peter Siddle, three-Test spinner Nathan Hauritz and either Hilfenhaus or Bollinger will lead the bowling attack at Sydney.