August 14, 2008

Plenty of pride after historic win

Paul Harris
A disappointing finish to the series at The Oval, but no diminishing the team's achievement
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Useful wickets throughout the series, but Kevin Pietersen is not Harris's bunny © Getty Images

We were very disappointed with the manner in which we lost the fourth Test as we did not play anything like we did in the rest of the series. Maybe subconsciously we were not as switched on as we should have been because the series was already won. Afterwards we had a few drinks in the dressing room before all the boys headed to a London nightclub where a little do was organised for us. I don't have a clue what time that finished but for me my tour was over, having not been included in the one-day squad, so I was able to relax.

It was a weird kind of night celebrating after losing a Test match but Graeme made us aware of the bigger picture which was of course the series win. The job was done. We would definitely have settled for a 2-1 win at the start of the tour, though 3-0 would have been even better! Graeme spoke to us straight after the game in the dressing room and said 'OK, we lost the match but we can all be very proud of the way we played throughout the Test series'.

A couple of England players came into our dressing room after the match - there may have been more but the only two I can remember seeing were Freddie Flintoff and Steve Harmison. It was nice to share a beer with them after the game and following a tough series.

That showed that the spirit remained good throughout the series. People suggested this aspect could have deteriorated after those disputed catches at Headingley and then at Edgbaston but I don't believe for one second any of those guys who claimed the catches knew they had not caught them cleanly. I was fielding at gully when AB [de Villiers] claimed his slip catch at Headingley and I saw it go straight into his hands as clean as anything. The problem is as soon as they go upstairs more often than not they are not out. If it was me and the fielder said he caught it I would go, but if he said he wasn't sure I would hang around.

We made too many mistakes at The Oval. We didn't get enough runs in the first innings and then we allowed England to score too many runs - that innings of 49 by Steve Harmison just made the difference in the end. If England had have been chasing 250 or 280 it could have been a different game.

It was nice to dismiss Kevin Pietersen. Some people have suggested to me that he is now my rabbit after I got him out for 94 at Edgbaston, but there is no way I would agree with that. He is a wonderful batsman and I was just pleased to bowl a few more overs in the last couple of games. I would have liked to have taken a few more wickets in the series but I contributed where my team needed me, whether it was scoring a few runs down the order or holding an end up and giving the fast bowlers a breather. I know what my job is and I don't mind doing what the team needs me to do, even if that means bowling defensively rather than attacking a bit more.

It was a strange kind of tour off the field as we probably only had two days off when we won in four days at Headingley and Edgbaston so there wasn't really much chance to tour around or sight-see. The guys arranged a golf day once but even that didn't happen for one reason or another. I am now going to relax for a few days in Dullstroom (north of Pretoria) with my wife and then after about ten days it's back to cricket with the Titans. I am still yet to find out if I will be playing in the Champions League with the Titans. It all depends on international commitments. It would be great to play in an event like that but I would always rather be representing my country.

South Africa spinner Paul Harris' diaries appeared on Cricinfo throughout the England series