Back then, it was Faf du Plessis who made a name for himself by batting and blocking 376 balls, and in the process scoring a gritty 110 which wore down the Australians and forced a draw.
With two days to go in this match, it is highly unlikely a draw is in the equation, but a similarly gritty performance by Stephen Cook and Quinton de Kock could possibly give the Proteas a decent total and something to bowl at when Australia take to the field. They lead by just 70 runs with four wickets in hand.
There, the similarities between now and then end. Back then, injury to James Pattinson had reduced Australia’s bowling attack, and Du Plessis, back then, did not have someone of Quinton de Kock’s exuberance at the other end.
It will take a huge change of mindset to rein in De Kock, and the question is whether that would be a wise move: he is at his best when given the freedom of the park.
It will also need a big knock by Cook, who has proved on more than once occasion that he has the temperament and the stubborn technique to resist the Australians.
The Proteas batting coach, Neil McKenzie believes Cook is the man for the job.
‘Cookie is just one of those hard-working cricketers; sort of old-school,’ he said ‘He does it his way. It doesn’t always look pretty but has a method that has worked for him. He has got nearly 40 first-class hundreds, so you can’t mess with his technique’.
Cook or De Kock will have only the tail as backup, but Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi have shown that they can contribute.
But what they bring will be just bonus; they can’t be expected to carry the batting.