Dale Steyn celebrates with Heinrich Klaasen after capturing the wicket of D’Arcy Short during yesterday’s first ODI at Perth Stadium. Associated Press
When concerns were raised after South Africa’s only warm-up fixture in Australia, the answer from within the camp was that they would turn up on Sunday.

And how.

The Proteas beat Australia by six wickets, but it was a lot more decisive than that. There were several, sloppy SA dismissals with the end in sight, but Australia know that they got dusted properly in Perth.

They were hurried by a dynamic pace attack, then fell into the eternal trap of going after the medium-pacer. Andile Phehlukwayo grabbed three wickets, and justified his selection ahead of Chris Morris - who would have been a handful in conditions that were certainly encouraging.

As SA continue to look to the future, it was a fabulous blast from the past that got them going in the opening one-day international yesterday. Once Faf du Plessis had won the toss and wisely chosen to bowl, Dale Steyn exorcised what lingering demons he might have had about playing in Western Australia.

He bowled fast, and frankly, and with a freedom that would chortle the heart of any cricket lover.

The wild eyes were back, as he leapt to celebrate his return to these parts with 2/18. But it was worth more than that to his teammates, because he set the tone upfront. There was no let up, no release of the intoxicating intensity they confronted Australia with.

The hosts came up well short, their homecoming rumbled even before the balloons had been properly inflated. 23 000 souls came to see what the new Australia would deliver, and no one would blame them for hankering for a hasty return to old, snarling ways.

There were holes shot all over this lot. They were swiped out for 152, as Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi also took two wickets apiece. The visitors were sharp and instinctive in the field.

There was more reason for SA to smile when they padded up. Quinton de Kock (47) showed that he was rousing himself for a run glut once more, with crisp drives, savage flicks and disdainful dinks over the slip cordon.

Reeza Hendricks introduced himself to a new audience with an increasingly assured 44, showing more than a whiff of one Herschelle Gibbs with some of his flamboyance.

Aiden Markram struck a 36 dripping with elegance, reminding his hosts that he is not just pretty in white clothing.

They might have wanted to get the job done by eight or nine wickets, as De Kock lamented afterwards, but the Proteas racked up a sixth straight victory over the world champions in ODIs.

That is a statement in itself, and they have now transferred all the pressure back onto a team grappling for a new identity, playing under a new leader, and trying to convince the rest that they’ve turned over a new leaf.