I’m not sure what to say. That was quite stunning. If someone had told me at 8am this morning that England would win this game by seven wickets sometime after tea I would’ve laughed. Yet that’s exactly what happened. The Cricket Boks were steamrolled and humiliated. Don’t you feel sorry for them? Didn’t think so.
Today was one of those days that happens infrequently in English cricket: we won a series away from home, against an old foe, with style and swagger. Yes the win comes with something of a caveat because South Africa were missing their two opening bowlers, but does anyone really care right now? The bottom line is that England played excellent, entertaining cricket in this series, and we thoroughly deserved to win.
Stuart Broad was absolutely sensational today. It was just one of those memorable occasions when he gets his tail up and runs through a side. We first saw it in the 2009 Ashes at The Oval. We saw it again at Trent Bridge last summer. But in my opinion today’s effort was possibly the best of the lot. The pitch really wasn’t a minefield. It wasn’t the first morning of a test on a green top with overcast skies either. It was just a brilliant spell of bowling. Congratulations, Stuart.
A few days ago I wrote that this could be a seminal test match for England – a true barometer of the team’s development under Bayliss. Would England be up to the task? The answer couldn’t have been more emphatic. Achieving parity in the first innings after being 90-odd for 4 was a great effort. Root and Stokes have confirmed their status as two of world cricket’s brightest and most watchable talents.
This series victory was also hugely satisfying because we did it without leaning heavily on the skipper. England have come to rely so much on Cook over the last year or so. I really thought he’d need to have a big series in order for England to compete. Yet we’ve done it without him. You could say we’ve done it without any openers.
The rest of the side has done a fine job. Nick Compton made runs in the first test. James Taylor pulled off two jaw dropping catches this afternoon. Moeen Ali has chipped in with important wickets at ideal moments. Steve Finn has looked better than he has for a while. It was a real team effort.
Perhaps the only other player who didn’t make much of an impact was James Anderson. Thats’s James Anderson, the leader of the pack, and the bowler we’ve come to depend on so heavily in recent times. Who’d have thought it?
The bottom line is this: England have beaten South Africa in South Africa for only the second time since readmission. And we basically did it without our country’s leading run scorer and wicket taker. It’s unexpected and very, very sweet indeed. It also bodes extremely well for the future. Well done lads. Bloody well done.