Cape Town/Sydney, March 4: As Australia pummels its team to an inexorable defeat, South Africa's highly-regarded captain Graeme Smith will call it quits from international cricket, at the end of a series that exposed his position as South African cricket's go-to leader.
Cricket-mad Sydney has been brewing coffee to stay up late and watch a third day completely dominated by the tourists, while Smith would have had ample time in the sheds to consider his future, having been the first man out at the beginning of play.
Smith has endured a torrid time against a rejuvenated Australian side, led capably by Michael Clarke who, in stark contrast to Smith, managed to score a stunning 161 to set up the green and gold's for a long-awaited series win in South Africa, reports Xinhua.
After a historic Ashes series win in Australia, the Test team has captured the nation's sporting imagination once more, with pubs and clubs in Sydney packed out until 3.00 a.m., listening and watching the thrilling series on the other side of the world.
Alas for Smith - a combative, aggressive captain in the traditional South African mould - has only managed a meagre 42 runs through five innings in this series. Perhaps an indication that his powers have begun to inexorably fade.
Smith broke the news to his team-mates at the close of play on day three of the third Test at Cape Town Monday, releasing a statement that caught the cricketing fraternity off guard.
"This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life," he said in a statement.
"I have a young family to consider, and I felt that retiring at Newlands would be the best way to end it because I have called this place home since I was 18 years old."
Smith made his debut as an opener at Newlands more than a decade ago in 2002, also against Australia, making a hard-fought 68 in the combative style that would become his trademark.
It would have been a painful day for any captain to watch his side skittled cheaply on their home turf as Australia bowled out South Africa for 287, garnering a lead of 207, and added another 27 runs for no wicket before close of play.
The Aussies are in a powerful position as chief-destroyer Mitchell Johnson said that the ambition and drive remained to topple the world champions.
Johnson said: "We want to be the number one Test side," and with 98 overs due to be bowled on both the remaining days, it looks almost arithmetic that the Australians will be crowned the leading team in almost all forms of the game.
Johnson led the destruction with fiery pace bowling on a dull pitch to end the day with 4 for 42.