Australia won the Adelaide Test to register a consolatory victory    Getty Images
Australia won the Adelaide Test to register a consolatory victory Getty Images

Australian cricket was on its knees once again after abasing defeats in the first two Tests, but South Africa could not muster enough courage to swing the sword for one last time and chop the head off. Ravaged with five straight defeats, Australia looked well past their glory when they could not even muster drawn Tests. The last two defeats at WACA and Hobart were perhaps the lowest Australia could ever hit, and everyone from the interim selectors in Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell to players Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw deserve to be praised for holding the fort. This win, at the Adelaide Oval, may be consolatory, but it is also a strong signal that everything is not lost. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, 3rd Test at Adelaide

Re-entering the rebuilding phase would have ashamed the very heart of Australian cricket a powerhouse that has produced remarkable talent for years and dominated even the best. But the recent downfall that was triggered on seaming wickets in England (Ashes 2015), certified on turning tracks in Sri Lanka and exposed by South Africa in their own backyard will run its course. And hopefully, Australia will stand on its feet with conviction yet again. Non-performers will perish, incompetents will be found out and Australia like every other international team will take their own sweet time to consolidate.

Australia s history and perception in the cricketing world of being a brash, arrogant and snobbish group of players might have had many deriving some pleasure on their plight. However, it is up to Steven Smith and David Warner the young group of players under the 20-somethings to form their own image.

And for now, many men in the Australian cricket set-up from James Sutherland to Pat Howard to Gavin Dovey and Darren Lehmann and the support staff will breathe a huge sigh of relief. The storm has tapered off. Whatever damage South Africa could cause is done. The worn-out men can gather over a few beers now that there will be some tranquility.

They say, only the tough ones survive till the end. To put things into perspective, Smith, Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon were always the only men who deserved better. It was a fact that almost whole of Australia and even those at a distance knew. Sadly, it took two embarrassing defeats to make them believe that since the others were not cut out for the challenges.

The victory at Adelaide should mark the start of a new phase, if not an era. The team has gone through some chopping, but leadership remains fixated. As leaders, Smith and Warner have had their ups as well as downs; the law of averages has caught up with them pretty well. They knew what it takes to win overseas. Now they know what it takes to win even at home.

Warner stood tall amidst the ruins in ODIs in South Africa. And when he made his share of mistakes, Smith stood tall with a gem of an innings at Hobart. That 48 not out in first essay was a slap in the face for everyone who believed Smith was a flat-track bully. A wiser, stronger and hungrier Smith is expected to emerge out of this.

The future, however, holds tougher challenges. Unpredictable Pakistan can spring surprises. India are unrelenting at home. Then, there is the Ashes 2017-18 at home. What will Australia s Test side look like is anybody s guess.

The team is raw. Renshaw, Nic Maddinson and Peter Handscomb have just completed their debut matches. Chadd Sayers remains on the sidelines. Jackson Bird has taken a few wickets, but he is yet to make a mark away from home.

Since they are the next team bound to Australia, Pakistan s struggles in New Zealand bring some hope. If Australia continue to make progress and play with the same heart they had at Adelaide, a series win cannot be ruled out. But let s allow the depleted men in the Australian camp to put their feet up and relax for a while.

After all, they have been through toughest of times.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)