Never before have the Aussies lost five matches in a bilateral ODI series, but that could change on Wednesday when a South African victory would consign the tourists to a historic 5-0 defeat.
That scoreline is now a very distinct possibility after Australia lost the fourth match of the series by six wickets.
In arguably their worst defeat of the tour so far, Australia was all out for just 167, with seven batsmen out for single figure scores.
Sunday’s defeat came after the series was officially lost in the third match Durban, when Australia conceded the second-highest successful run chase in ODI history.
The Aussies lost games one and two by six wickets and 142 runs respectively.
Steve Smith’s side is now the first Australian team to lose four ODIs on the trot since Michael Clarke’s men in July 2012 in a five-match series against England in England.
That series may have only been four years ago but it was essentially a different generation for Australian cricket, with Brett Lee, Ben Hilfenhaus and Clint McKay sharing the new ball over the series, and David Hussey and Peter Forrest in the middle order.
The only players on tour in South Africa at the moment who were involved in that series are Smith, David Warner, George Bailey and Matthew Wade. The rested Mitchell Starc was also on that tour but could not get a game.
Having lost by 15 runs in the series opener, Australia was comfortably beaten by six wickets with 26 balls to spare in game two after setting England 252 to win. A rain abandoned third match then ensured the tourists could do no better than tie the series in the final two games.
It wasn’t to be, with the Australians skittled for 200 in game four; a target England chased down with 13 balls and eight wickets to spare. With the series secured, the hosts then rubbed salt into the wounds, winning the campaign’s final match by seven wickets with 11 balls to spare under the Duckworth-Lewis method. The series loss was Australia’s first in bilateral tournaments since its surprise defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in Australia in 2010.
If the Australians manages to win the fifth ODI it will not be the first time they have lost 4-1 to the Proteas. Back in January 2009 they were humbled on home soil by a rampant South African outfit.
Captain Johan Botha led the charge as one of three South African bowlers to finish on top of the wicket-taking charts – Dale Steyn (8 at 22.62) and Makhaya Ntini (8 at 17.12) – with eight scalps at 23.50 runs apiece.
The tourists were good with the bat as well. Although Shaun Marsh (218 at 43.60) and Ricky Ponting (214 at 42.80) topped the run-scoring charts, spots three to six belonged to the Proteas, with Hashim Amla (199 at 49.75), AB de Villiers (191 at 63.66), Jacques Kallis (186 at 46.50) and JP Duminy (175 at 58.33) all averaging in excess of 45.
Level at 1-1 after two games, the series looked set to be a classic, only for South Africa to take charge from game three onwards. South Africa won the third ODI with 21 balls and three wickets to spare, the fourth with 71 balls and eight wickets in hand and the fifth by 39 runs. (Courtesy Fox Sports)