South Africa in England 2012 August 21, 2012

South Africa fully deserve the mace

South Africa's all-round excellence makes them worthy new world leaders, writes Kevin Garside in the Independent

South Africa's all-round excellence makes them worthy new world leaders, writes Kevin Garside in the Independent. England did not lose this series, Garside writes, they were beaten, well beaten in the end.

There is no mystery, just excellence in the fundamentals, which when added together amounts to crushing efficiency. South Africa score runs at the top of the order, reinforce that with a no-frills orthodoxy in the middle and bat long into the tail. In fact Imran Tahir is the tail. The attack is so well balanced, captain Graeme Smith can afford to hold back his most potent weapon, the Usain Bolt-quick Dale Steyn, bringing him on first change. What a haughty message of supremacy that is to send to the oppo.

South Africa have given England an exemplary lesson in how to play Test cricket, according to Jonathan Agnew. More from BBC Sport.

England remain a good side but not the best side, writes Vic Marks in the Guardian, but in Jonny Bairstow they have uncovered a refreshing talent eager to adorn the international stage.

Jonny Bairstow engaged the most with his 54 runs from 47 balls. Some cricketers have the capacity to charm effortlessly, unwittingly. To take some extreme examples; David Gower had it; Clive Radley probably did not. Bairstow, it would appear, does have it.

Just occasionally he plays a shot which prompts a "How the devil did he do that?" It may be his short-arm jab through mid-wicket or the silky flick off the front foot in the same direction, which is followed by him gliding down the pitch to complete his runs.

In The Telegraph Scyld Berry give his marks out of 10 for the England players’ performances in the three Tests against South Africa.

Jonny Bairstow: Pietersen did not bat so well at Bairstow’s age. Will be one of England’s greats if he doesn’t believe the publicity. One and a half superlative innings at Lord’s 9.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo