England’s triumph over South Africa was a victory for team spirit more than any other single factor… and no wonder captain Michael Vaughan was fulsome in his praise of his entire squad, backroom staff included.
The players clearly pulled round the skipper after his run-in with match referee Clive Lloyd. The £6,000 match-fee fine on England’s leader after his ‘inconsistency among umpires’ remarks clearly upset everybody… and did they make their feelings known when and where it mattered most.
The fine was absolutely ridiculous for what was considered a middle-of-the-road Grade 2 offence. Just how on earth my old Lancashire colleague could jump on Vaughan from such a height is beyond me, but it looks like Richard Bevan, the players’ representative, is about to stick his teeth into the ICC over it. We definitely haven’t heard the last of this.
This is a united England team and boy did they pull together yesterday. They must have had such a positive mindset because things like yesterday do not happen unless you are absolutely convinced that you can win the game.
Everybody, quite rightly, is going on about Matthew Hoggard’s record-breaking bowling, but nobody should under-estimate Marcus Trescothick’s role in setting up a 2-1 series lead.
Some spectacular batting when he switched into one-day mode to hit big 6’s in the rarefied atmosphere of Johannesburg allowed England to set such attacking fields for the two sessions they had to bowl South Africa out in.
What an amazing performance in the field especially since Steve Harmison had not been firing on all cylinders, James Anderson wasn’t performing to his full potential and Freddie Flintoff had been carrying an injury. Hoggy stepped forward, held his hand up and produced his greatest ever figures -12 for 205 in the match. How fitting it was that he should claim his seventh of the second innings by dismissing last man Dale Steyn to spark off victory celebrations the like of which are rarely seen.
It was a comeback of unparalleled proportions particularly after South Africa had levelled the series in South Africa when England had looked tired, below par and lost. The vibes coming out of the squad about team harmony are there for all to feel - every single player pulling for his colleagues… and for none more than the captain.
They probably had a drink or two after the game, but mindful that the tour is not over yet. They will not want to let South Africa square the series in Pretoria starting this weekend. I just can’t see this squad letting that happen.