Melbourne:The Australian media on Friday said its team's 1-4 ODI series defeat to South Africa was enough evidence that Australia's fall from grace would be hard to recover and Ricky Ponting's men are no longer at the level of the Proteas and Indians.
"Whether South Africa are ready for the No.1 ranking is irrelevant, because Australia is no longer on their level, nor India's. The crown is gone and Australia are languishing behind the other two nations in form and depth," 'Sydney Morning Herald' wrote in a report.
"Gone too is the killer instinct and ability to forge back-breaking partnerships when it matters most. Having lost the tri-series to India last season, Australia have been humbled this time around by a youthful and developing South African team," the report added.
With today's 39-run win in Perth, South Africa dethroned Australia from the top of the ICC ODI championship and the media here suggested Ponting's team would go down the ladder further.
"India and the Proteas will fight it out with Australia for the No.1 ranking in coming weeks but where the foreign teams are rising, Australia have clearly fallen."
Headlined 'Humbled Aussies lose no. 1 rank', 'Daily Telegraph' said the 4-1 series result was ample evidence of changing world order in the game.
"South Africa's fearless rookies have stolen Australia's No.1 one-day ranking, invincible aura and self-belief. There was ample evidence of the changing world order unfolding apart from the statistical fact that South Africa would take the No.1 one-day ranking," the newspaper wrote.
The report made mockery of the Australian team that even lost to a rookie Protea team sans heavyweights Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis.
"Australia was beaten by a side with 836 one-day games experience sidelined in the form of Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis," it said.
"Depressed fans found solace in connecting a beer snake across the length of the John Inverarity Stand. Australia was unconvincing. Even the most optimistic now wouldn't expect Australia's aging, sidelined stars to make much difference."
Former Australian opener Justin Langer said the loss of the world No.1 mantle "would really hurt skipper Ricky Ponting" while Michael Slater said the loss of the No.1 ranking would be "absolutely crushing".