won, but I was surprised at the ease with which they destroyed South Africa at HQ. The biggest reason was undoubtedly the performance of the bowlers. They were nothing short of awesome as James Anderson and Darren Gough led the way.
The opening bowlers went straight into the Proteas and never let go. With Jacques Kallis and Herschel Gibbs back in the pavilion and South Africa on 40 for four, the game was there for the taking… and England took it with both hands.
One of the most important things England will have taken out of the series is the need to enter every match with five bowlers – you can’t get away these days with four and a back-up. When you have five specialists you have a chance of a wicket with every ball.
The batsmen also played their part and it was exhilarating to see Victor Solanki and Michael Vaughan play with such freedom and expression after the early loss of Marcus Trescothick.
And nobody played a bigger part throughout the series than our own Freddie Flintoff. Quite a few players in the past have had to live with the burden of following Ian Botham into the role of team all-rounder and it has been too much for them and now Freddie is being talked of in the same breath. Only time will tell what happens, but I do know that it is something Freddie will not be worried about, especially with the way he is playing at the moment.
My only hope for Freddie is that he stays fit because his confidence is high and it would be very nice to see him carry his one-day form into the Test arena.
As for Michael Vaughan’s captaincy, it has gone as well as we could have hoped. The word from the dressing room is that the atmosphere is refreshing, laid back, but focused.
Being able to produce your best on the big occasion marks people out and England have certainly done that.