With every match across the Tasman the potential size of New Zealand's final challenge of the summer looms larger.

Now that we've seen the potency of South Africa's seam bowling and the class of their batting, their skipper has now stepped up to show once more he's not a player to be trifled with.

Faf du Plessis' unbeaten 118 at Adelaide Oval was an innings loaded with character.

Whether you think he should not have been playing, or support his right to suck on mints while working on a ball, consider the circumstances of his century.


He arrived to resounding boos from the Adelaide Oval crowd, his team were 44 for three, after he had chosen to bat, and responded with an innings loaded with steel and purpose.

If South Africa go on to make it a 3-0 clean sweep, sheet it back in large part to the skipper.

He's only filling in for the injured AB de Villiers - or is he? Du Plessis, if he can pull off a 3-0 result, can stake a real claim to taking charge full time when de Villiers returns.

Things are seriously bad between the two teams (and isn't it strange how often when there's acrimony Australia are one of the parties).

You'd have thought Australia, being beaten from pillar to post, would concentrate on their cricket, but no, there were Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood sneering and smart-arsing it up at the South African batsmen on Thursday night.

This is handed like a mantra from generation to generation in Australian teams and it's not going to stop anytime soon, especially with the loquacious Matthew Wade now behind the stumps.

You think du Plessis wasn't seriously motivated on Thursday night?

You wonder how he's getting on with Hashim Amla though.

Amla, with the team standing behind him, fiercely defended du Plessis against the sweet-sucking, tampering charge only for the skipper to come out and say of course he did it because everyone does. How's that for foot-tripping your much respected teammate?

Gavin Larsen, New Zealand's selection convener, suggested yesterday that Australia will be bristling to clatter New Zealand in the Chappell Hadlee Trophy.

They have been on the run this summer and New Zealand, if they're good enough, have a good chance to clutch the trophy for a third successive time.

The theme of change is firmly in the air, after producing a first test lineup with six changes from the previous test in India.

Now there are returning players galore - Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, uncapped ODI spinner Todd Astle and newcomer Lockie Ferguson.

Interesting times for sure.