South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was gutted to lose to England at Newlands but acknowledged they had been part of a magnificent spectacle in the second Test.
A dramatic final day saw the Proteas come within half an hour of batting out the day to secure a draw, but instead, Ben Stokes took the final three wickets in quick succession as England levelled the four-match series at 1-1.
Du Plessis felt the contest was exactly why the ICC should not reduce Tests to four days as he reflected on a tough loss for his team.
"What an advertisement for Test cricket," he said. "Obviously I'm sad that we are on the losing side, but all I'm asking for from a team-mate is that we fought and fought really hard.
"We did that over five days. Most teams would come when the chips are down and fall after lunch, so for me this was a huge step in the right direction, showing character and fight. We lost in the right way, we fought to the end, and I'm proud of that.
"I am a fan of Test cricket going five days. The great draws of the game go five days. I understand there is a lot of money being burnt on day-five cricket because a lot of Test matches are not going five days.
"But I am still a purist of the game because I have been part of some great draws and this is no different. There would definitely not have been a result in four days on this pitch.
"That's what makes it special, to have Stokes, shattered and still running in and we are trying to survive. That's what makes the extra day so special.
"Unfortunately, there has to be a winner and a loser, and credit for England for having just a little bit more in the tank than we had. [Quinton de Kock] was going really well and we felt he had it under control."
The third Test in Port Elizabeth will start on January 16.
Du Plessis added: "The next Test will be very exciting. Luckily there's a bit of a break after two tough matches in a row.
"Regroup, train harder and make sure we improve – that's what we're trying to do as a young unit and I think that's what you see.
"Two months ago, we were very weak mentally. We exploded quickly. Sometimes you will improve by losing."
Asked where the game was lost for South Africa, Du Plessis felt their opening total of 223 had proven costly.
"First-innings runs," he said. "We got ourselves into a position where we should have got a little bit more. We are not where we need to be from a batting point of view.
"But what pleases me is that we've found someone at the top of the order in Pieter Malan. He knows his game and has stepped in and played one of the great innings. We've shown we've got another opener who can play Test cricket."