Sweet victory and Hash at his best
Well, it doesn’t get much better than this – beating the number one test team in the world, in their own backyard, after a really outstanding performance. As I write this, we’ve just got back to the hotel after spending a few hours in the change room at The Oval, celebrating our test victory over England.
You may wonder what goes on after a win like this, but it’s nothing too out of the ordinary, although we do make sure we have a few drinks and celebrate together, particularly important victories like this one. It was a hard-fought win and five days of tough test cricket, so there was always going to be a bit of a release.
Directly after the game, we had a bit of a chat and a debrief session, before getting our hands on a cold one. One of the hospitality boxes next to the change room sent over a couple of bottles of champagne, so those went down rather well.
Our skipper actually flew back to South Africa on Monday evening, to attend the birth of his first child, so it’s great to send him on his way with a win like this. He’s really chuffed with what we’ve achieved over the past few days, and now he’s looking forward to seeing his new-born child. I just hope Morgan can hold on until he’s back!
Just looking back at the game itself, it seems a long time ago that England were finishing day one on top. I actually think we bowled quite well on the first day, but didn’t get much reward, even though they finished the day on 267 for three.
Credit to the England batsmen – I thought they batted really well, particularly Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott. That second-wicket partnership was very impressive, but when we got KP’s wicket late in the day, it definitely gave us a bit of momentum. We then followed that up by bowling really well on the second morning, and I don’t think we looked back after that.
The bowlers applied pressure from both ends and picked up wickets at regular intervals. We knew that England had the upper hand and the only way to wrestle it back was to get a couple of early wickets on that second morning, and we did that.
Unfortunately, I didn’t contribute significantly with the bat, but I just got a very good ball from James Anderson – a big in-swinger – and that will happen as an opening batsman. I actually think it was the best ball of the game! I’m still very happy to be on the winning side, even though I didn’t get runs. My last test I got 150, so you can’t contribute all the time.
It was the sort of wicket that you could cash in on, once you had got in, and that’s why I’m so pleased with the way Hashim and Jacques made the most of it. Hashim is a fantastic player and that knock said it all. What was so impressive was his concentration, the way he played every ball on its merit and the way he looked in control, all the time. He got some good balls and was dropped on 40, but that’s part and parcel of the game, and the good players are the ones who capitalise on opportunities like that. I’d say it’s one of the best innings I’ve ever seen.
As I’ve said, it’s an incredible feeling beating the number one test side in their own backyard. There was obviously a lot of talk about the number one position before the series started, but what’s more important for us is that we follow our processes and keep working hard.
There was a headline in a UK paper after day one, saying we were “degrading test cricket”, when England were only three down, which I thought was quite harsh. But, we don’t want to do our talking in the media – we want to do it on the pitch, and we’ve done that so far.
For now, we’ll celebrate, before regrouping and focusing on the second test at Headingley.