South Africa v England, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 4th day January 17, 2010

Smith satisfied after justice is served

This was more like the South Africa who dominated world cricket through 2008 and rose to the top of the tree
18

The South Africans will feel justice has been done. Such was the dominance of their display at the Wanderers that it's impossible to deny that they fully deserved a share of the spoils. They believed that coming into the final Test, but the pressure was on them to deliver a performance after twice pulling up agonisingly short. This time they left nothing to chance and there was nothing close about the result.

This was more like the South Africa who dominated world cricket through 2008 and rose to the top of the tree before disappearing over the last 12 months. They were so motivated for this contest - they couldn't really believe how the visitors held the advantage heading into the final Test - and that made them an unstoppable force. England played their worst game since the thrashing against Australia, at Headingley, but they were never allowed into the match.

Over the last four days the hosts have shown a ruthlessness that isn't often associated with their cricket, typified by the positive batting approach and their fourth-morning demolition of England's second innings. This time they weren't going to leave anything to chance, especially with thunderstorms looming each day.

"If we are honest we could easily be sat here 3-1 up," Graeme Smith said. "We've played the better cricket in three out of four games. It could have been easy for us to run out of puff after giving so much in Cape Town, but we bounced back and each guy was hungry to perform well.

"We lacked knock-out blows in Centurion and Cape Town - England showed great resilience throughout the series and played well at Durban - but it was great for us to be able to play such convincing cricket here. We really dominated the game and came out deserved winners of the Test."

After three matches in which South Africa felt certain things hadn't gone their way - from weather conditions, to pitches, to injuries - they couldn't really have produced a more perfect match. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were outstanding attack leaders, Smith led from the front with the bat and was followed by Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher, then the bowlers did their job a second time. Even the two debutants, Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren, played their part with Parnell claiming the key second-innings scalps of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen.

"I'm just really proud of the way the guys played," he added. "We had two debutants who put in solid performances. We certainly were the team who were hungrier going into this game and we played that way. It shows this team wants to progress and within the group there is a real drive to be better."

Smith didn't try to hide the fact that he thought England had aided their own downfall in the way they handled the review system. Smith, himself, was at the centre of the main controversy over his 'edge' on the second morning, but he said the visitors allowed it to get into their mindset and South Africa were pleased to take advantage.

"It's something that has made us happy," Smith said. "We feel that England spent so much time and energy on that stuff that it really allowed us to focus on our cricket. To see them really lose focus on what was important gave us more confidence through the game."

The series has grown increasingly antagonistic on the field although Smith said he hoped to share a beer with the England team. "It's something I'd like to do." Indeed the players did spend a couple of hours together after the formalities were complete.

However, when pushed on where England stand in the current world game, he gave them a cautious rating based on their "potential", and made a pointed dig at their selection for this match by picking Graham Onions as their best seamer.

"England have come here and played well throughout the summer," Smith said. "Graeme Swann has had an outstanding series and from our perspective Paul Collingwood has been the glue in the batting line up. Their seamers have bowled well, especially Graham Onions. He was a new package for us and asked a lot of questions. There's potential there, but there will be a lot of challenges ahead for any team. World cricket today is pretty close and if you aren't good enough in the series, or things don't go your way, then you have to fight to stay in it."

The home side certainly feel they are the superior side and at the end of the series it's hard to argue against that claim. Their batting was far more productive and, with Steyn and Morkel at the helm, they have the more potent pace attack. The only area they fall short in is the spin department and the tour to India will test them fully on that.

South Africa, though, can't afford to get carried away by this victory. After all, the series started with the expectation that they would dominate throughout. However, after a very difficult 2009, which ended with that crushing defeat in Durban, Smith feels his side can now return to their previous levels.

"We thought after 2008 that we were heading in the right direction and then we took a step back. But in 2010 we have started in a really positive way with a good Test in Cape Town and an even better one here, so we certainly want to see our curve going back upwards."

For now Smith will sit back with a sigh of relief that this series didn't slip away. That would have taken some explaining.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shannonr on January 18, 2010, 9:23 GMT

    "England played dreadfully and still got a draw, so how bad a captain must Smith be to not have beaten us?"

    Absolutely. Smith is the 2nd worst captain in Tests at the moment (with the worst being Ponting, obviously, and I'm an Aussie!)

    As well as poor tacticians, you won't see a less graceful winner than Smith in particular and the Saffer brains trust in general. So, very glad they DIDN'T WIN this Test Series. Although, typically, they're carrying on like they did.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on January 18, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    This was a successful tour for England. Having won the ODI series, they managed to draw the test series. No one had expected this at the start of this tour. And remember, this was the first test series of the post-Flintoff era and our best batsman KP was seriously out of form. If everything goes fine, we are in for an exciting Ashes series at the end of the year.

  • ste13 on January 18, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    truly deserved vectory; as said below, except for Durban, England looked an "ordinary' side (using Indian expressions). Collingwood and Swann were the only players that would make SA squad. Sa lacks spin capabilities, that would have won them Centurion and Cape Town tests, but Duminy is progressing, he is still young and can develop further. what a contest it should be in India. test cricket is well alive and the last series have been absorbing, this cannot be compared with short format, twenty20 will soon become ordinary because of growing number of games played, while tests will always remain special and something extraordinary in sporting world

  • Nuxxy on January 18, 2010, 8:24 GMT

    But for a freaky session in Durban, South Africa played pretty much the best cricket all series through. The were definitely at a low and underperforming when the series started, but it seems the behemoth is moving again.

    For the future: Duminy must work really hard, on both his batting and bowling. He can turn it, but needs to work on control now. Then comes variations. But it would be awesome if he was good enough to stay as an all-rounder when Kallis eventually retires.

    The opening issue needs to be sorted out. I think AB needs to step up...he's had time to prove himself up to Ponting's level if he wants to be the world's best batsman, and he has not made the grade. So either he must put in the work to open, or put in the work to keep. I support Boucher to stay keeper for the moment, but they must start training a replacement.

    And lastly, a new spinner. Someone who can attack and trouble batsmen. Harris is not that. For variation's sake, I'd prefer Tahir.

  • PottedLambShanks on January 18, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    The more The Witness moans about deserving to have one 3-1, the more he calls into questions his decisions as captain. Let's be honest, England played dreadfully and still got a draw, so how bad a captain must Smith be to not have beaten us?

  • BWCB on January 18, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Unfortunately for me the series will be remembered for the controversies. Probably the most important one is the fact that after the ball alleged tampering incident on the third morning of the Cape Town test the English bowlers seized to be a threat for the rest of the series. This brings into question their achievement in Durban. Did they really deserve that win? How did they manage to start reverse swinging the ball in the 15th over? More disturbing to me was the behaviour of Little Miss Board and then even more the failure of the authorities to deal with it. I mean storming into the fourth umpire's box and behaving and looking like a petulant child for most of the series is just not on. He does damage to the image of English cricket and they can hardly afford that. Lastly just a bit about KP. He has made it known that he is getting tired of the boos whenever he sets his foot on a cricket field in South Africa. What else can he expect after the comment he has made about this country

  • popcorn on January 18, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    South Africa was far and away better than England.They deserved to win 3 -1.

  • JGuru on January 18, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    Well and truly justice got served finally. SA could easily have been 3-1. The final encounter was thrilling from SA point of view because it would go down as one of the best victories achieved in recent times at home. Considering the pressure build up before the start of the match, SA held the nerve and was spot on from ball one. Morne and Steyn looked devastatingly dangerous and blown england away. The ball that dismissed Trott in the second innings was peach of a delivery from Steyn. Had he been in that sort of touch in the first two matches, things could have been totally different. It was an all round comprehensive performance from the home side. They gave their best when it mattered most. But SA has to get the overall combination right in batting and bowling department when they set to tour India. That will be more challenging due to totally unfavorable conditions to their bowlers and very tough ask for the batsmen. For the moment they can rejoice their astounding victory.

  • SpiritoCricket on January 18, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    And if my Aunty was a man she would be my uncle. Congratulations to SA for drawing a series they should have won in a canter. My only question is that India South Africa will be 1v2 in the world and it is a 2 test series? This is ridiculous and although until recently they were scheduled to play 5 ODI's they should play at least three tests and not this farcical 2 test "series"

  • KingOwl on January 18, 2010, 2:19 GMT

    SA are clearly the best side in the world right now - despite not having a quality spinner. But they will not be dominant like the WI and Assuies of old. They will often lose when the conditions are unfavourable. But, they are the best of the lot. India's No. 1 ranking is just a fluke. But India are not too far behind. They, together with Aussies and S Lankans are next best (bunched together) - they will win when conditons are favourable - India on flat tracks, Assuies on Bouncy tracks, and SL on spinning tracks. England I think are rightly ranked at No. 5, right now. But they too are only marginally below the second ranked bunch of nations. The problem for England is not really lack of talent, but their whinging mentality. Overall, it is a good time or competitive test cricket!

  • shannonr on January 18, 2010, 9:23 GMT

    "England played dreadfully and still got a draw, so how bad a captain must Smith be to not have beaten us?"

    Absolutely. Smith is the 2nd worst captain in Tests at the moment (with the worst being Ponting, obviously, and I'm an Aussie!)

    As well as poor tacticians, you won't see a less graceful winner than Smith in particular and the Saffer brains trust in general. So, very glad they DIDN'T WIN this Test Series. Although, typically, they're carrying on like they did.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on January 18, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    This was a successful tour for England. Having won the ODI series, they managed to draw the test series. No one had expected this at the start of this tour. And remember, this was the first test series of the post-Flintoff era and our best batsman KP was seriously out of form. If everything goes fine, we are in for an exciting Ashes series at the end of the year.

  • ste13 on January 18, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    truly deserved vectory; as said below, except for Durban, England looked an "ordinary' side (using Indian expressions). Collingwood and Swann were the only players that would make SA squad. Sa lacks spin capabilities, that would have won them Centurion and Cape Town tests, but Duminy is progressing, he is still young and can develop further. what a contest it should be in India. test cricket is well alive and the last series have been absorbing, this cannot be compared with short format, twenty20 will soon become ordinary because of growing number of games played, while tests will always remain special and something extraordinary in sporting world

  • Nuxxy on January 18, 2010, 8:24 GMT

    But for a freaky session in Durban, South Africa played pretty much the best cricket all series through. The were definitely at a low and underperforming when the series started, but it seems the behemoth is moving again.

    For the future: Duminy must work really hard, on both his batting and bowling. He can turn it, but needs to work on control now. Then comes variations. But it would be awesome if he was good enough to stay as an all-rounder when Kallis eventually retires.

    The opening issue needs to be sorted out. I think AB needs to step up...he's had time to prove himself up to Ponting's level if he wants to be the world's best batsman, and he has not made the grade. So either he must put in the work to open, or put in the work to keep. I support Boucher to stay keeper for the moment, but they must start training a replacement.

    And lastly, a new spinner. Someone who can attack and trouble batsmen. Harris is not that. For variation's sake, I'd prefer Tahir.

  • PottedLambShanks on January 18, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    The more The Witness moans about deserving to have one 3-1, the more he calls into questions his decisions as captain. Let's be honest, England played dreadfully and still got a draw, so how bad a captain must Smith be to not have beaten us?

  • BWCB on January 18, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Unfortunately for me the series will be remembered for the controversies. Probably the most important one is the fact that after the ball alleged tampering incident on the third morning of the Cape Town test the English bowlers seized to be a threat for the rest of the series. This brings into question their achievement in Durban. Did they really deserve that win? How did they manage to start reverse swinging the ball in the 15th over? More disturbing to me was the behaviour of Little Miss Board and then even more the failure of the authorities to deal with it. I mean storming into the fourth umpire's box and behaving and looking like a petulant child for most of the series is just not on. He does damage to the image of English cricket and they can hardly afford that. Lastly just a bit about KP. He has made it known that he is getting tired of the boos whenever he sets his foot on a cricket field in South Africa. What else can he expect after the comment he has made about this country

  • popcorn on January 18, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    South Africa was far and away better than England.They deserved to win 3 -1.

  • JGuru on January 18, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    Well and truly justice got served finally. SA could easily have been 3-1. The final encounter was thrilling from SA point of view because it would go down as one of the best victories achieved in recent times at home. Considering the pressure build up before the start of the match, SA held the nerve and was spot on from ball one. Morne and Steyn looked devastatingly dangerous and blown england away. The ball that dismissed Trott in the second innings was peach of a delivery from Steyn. Had he been in that sort of touch in the first two matches, things could have been totally different. It was an all round comprehensive performance from the home side. They gave their best when it mattered most. But SA has to get the overall combination right in batting and bowling department when they set to tour India. That will be more challenging due to totally unfavorable conditions to their bowlers and very tough ask for the batsmen. For the moment they can rejoice their astounding victory.

  • SpiritoCricket on January 18, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    And if my Aunty was a man she would be my uncle. Congratulations to SA for drawing a series they should have won in a canter. My only question is that India South Africa will be 1v2 in the world and it is a 2 test series? This is ridiculous and although until recently they were scheduled to play 5 ODI's they should play at least three tests and not this farcical 2 test "series"

  • KingOwl on January 18, 2010, 2:19 GMT

    SA are clearly the best side in the world right now - despite not having a quality spinner. But they will not be dominant like the WI and Assuies of old. They will often lose when the conditions are unfavourable. But, they are the best of the lot. India's No. 1 ranking is just a fluke. But India are not too far behind. They, together with Aussies and S Lankans are next best (bunched together) - they will win when conditons are favourable - India on flat tracks, Assuies on Bouncy tracks, and SL on spinning tracks. England I think are rightly ranked at No. 5, right now. But they too are only marginally below the second ranked bunch of nations. The problem for England is not really lack of talent, but their whinging mentality. Overall, it is a good time or competitive test cricket!

  • china_cricket on January 18, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    "If we are honest we could easily be sat here 3-1 up," - but you aren't, it's 1-1. The English rearguard was as effective in two tests as the South African bowling was in the final test.

  • SunAndSea on January 17, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    Phew! Seven wickets in one session? Took my seat in the Centenary stand and the test was over before I could finish my beer. Great having the Barmy Army on our shores. Looking forward to your next visit. Have a safe trip back.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on January 17, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    As Smith said, to be honest, the game must have been 3-1 for SA. England were only able to prevent the defeat in couple of games by delaying tactics. SA are too good for this bunch of England team. Except for Collingwood, this team looks like just a bunch of club-players. To be honest, people back home in England do not have high expectations from their team. They know what to expect. It's just that the media make a huge hype of the team and cause a "kind of" expectation--best marketing strategy to attract commercials. We'll soon find out what the England team are capable of, when they tour Bangladesh. Mark my words.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on January 17, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    A commentator recently made a comment saying something along the lines of SA don't win anything they're favorites for. To be honest, they seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall. In my opinion, mindset was one major thing that kept SA and Eng close competitors for majority of this series. I've heard commentators reiterate that "these are two evenly matched teams". If SA and their curators started the series with a ruthless mindset, SA would have beaten Eng mayb 2-1. On paper these teams are not that even. One needs to keep in mind that SA changed their batting line up far too drastically and it is STILL not at it's maximum capacity. In hindsight, Eng playing at their best would NEVER beat SA playing at their best in SA conditions. I however think that errors made by SA made this a thrilling! I do think that SA have great balance and are the MOST ADAPTABLE team in the world. If they get it right, they may retain the #1 every 1nce in a while.

  • shovwar on January 17, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    England is no where near the power of SA cricket, winning ashes doesn't mean that they are even better than Aussies....and i dont think they can win in Indian Soil...so the No. 1 tag for England is very far away......this series might be a 1-1 draw but it was a cat and mice game where England just slipped out.....it could've easily been 3-1 or 2-1..... I am really excited about SA in India series...it would be very close....SA is the only team who has the taste of winning a series in India.....the Morke-Steyn attack would be the toughest challenge for mighty Indian Batting Line up at present cricket.....

  • RahulSharma5 on January 17, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    I am very delighted finally South Africa have won the Test Match against England even though after deserving wins in the 1st and 3rd Test Match.Well done South Africa Cricket Team and i really wish you all the best for the Upcoming Series against India hope that South Africa fare well in India with just 1 spinner more required as JP Duminy is already serving his role well as a spinner although he would need some more practice since his ball turns a long way.JP Duminy should focus to become an all rounder. Wayne Parnell is a very good future prospect and even he needs to tour India his slow deliveries can prove handy along with Jacques Kallis bought as the 4th change bowler in the attack.I feel South Africa are a pretty balanced side now, they were unfortunate to win the Test Series against England but their new ball bowlers are awesome and capable to providing an early break through.Good Luck South Africa on the tour of India and congratulations for squaring the series against England.

  • jakaria on January 17, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    South Africa are much better in the final test match of the series. I think the major difference between the "champion" Australia and "choker" South Africa is Attitude. Aussies are always in attacking mode whether it is test or one day. But South African batting in test cricket is little bit defensive. If South Africans can play the way they play the last test match against England they will be the number 1 in test cricket.

  • sudhanshu0510 on January 17, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    This England side (with Onions) has the capability to become the no.1 test side in the world. 1-1 is a fair result actually. They beat Austrlia, drew SA...probably the best results they had hoped...now its time for them to do well in Sri Lanka and India...provided they play there...

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  • sudhanshu0510 on January 17, 2010, 13:17 GMT

    This England side (with Onions) has the capability to become the no.1 test side in the world. 1-1 is a fair result actually. They beat Austrlia, drew SA...probably the best results they had hoped...now its time for them to do well in Sri Lanka and India...provided they play there...

  • jakaria on January 17, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    South Africa are much better in the final test match of the series. I think the major difference between the "champion" Australia and "choker" South Africa is Attitude. Aussies are always in attacking mode whether it is test or one day. But South African batting in test cricket is little bit defensive. If South Africans can play the way they play the last test match against England they will be the number 1 in test cricket.

  • RahulSharma5 on January 17, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    I am very delighted finally South Africa have won the Test Match against England even though after deserving wins in the 1st and 3rd Test Match.Well done South Africa Cricket Team and i really wish you all the best for the Upcoming Series against India hope that South Africa fare well in India with just 1 spinner more required as JP Duminy is already serving his role well as a spinner although he would need some more practice since his ball turns a long way.JP Duminy should focus to become an all rounder. Wayne Parnell is a very good future prospect and even he needs to tour India his slow deliveries can prove handy along with Jacques Kallis bought as the 4th change bowler in the attack.I feel South Africa are a pretty balanced side now, they were unfortunate to win the Test Series against England but their new ball bowlers are awesome and capable to providing an early break through.Good Luck South Africa on the tour of India and congratulations for squaring the series against England.

  • shovwar on January 17, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    England is no where near the power of SA cricket, winning ashes doesn't mean that they are even better than Aussies....and i dont think they can win in Indian Soil...so the No. 1 tag for England is very far away......this series might be a 1-1 draw but it was a cat and mice game where England just slipped out.....it could've easily been 3-1 or 2-1..... I am really excited about SA in India series...it would be very close....SA is the only team who has the taste of winning a series in India.....the Morke-Steyn attack would be the toughest challenge for mighty Indian Batting Line up at present cricket.....

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on January 17, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    A commentator recently made a comment saying something along the lines of SA don't win anything they're favorites for. To be honest, they seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall. In my opinion, mindset was one major thing that kept SA and Eng close competitors for majority of this series. I've heard commentators reiterate that "these are two evenly matched teams". If SA and their curators started the series with a ruthless mindset, SA would have beaten Eng mayb 2-1. On paper these teams are not that even. One needs to keep in mind that SA changed their batting line up far too drastically and it is STILL not at it's maximum capacity. In hindsight, Eng playing at their best would NEVER beat SA playing at their best in SA conditions. I however think that errors made by SA made this a thrilling! I do think that SA have great balance and are the MOST ADAPTABLE team in the world. If they get it right, they may retain the #1 every 1nce in a while.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on January 17, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    As Smith said, to be honest, the game must have been 3-1 for SA. England were only able to prevent the defeat in couple of games by delaying tactics. SA are too good for this bunch of England team. Except for Collingwood, this team looks like just a bunch of club-players. To be honest, people back home in England do not have high expectations from their team. They know what to expect. It's just that the media make a huge hype of the team and cause a "kind of" expectation--best marketing strategy to attract commercials. We'll soon find out what the England team are capable of, when they tour Bangladesh. Mark my words.

  • SunAndSea on January 17, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    Phew! Seven wickets in one session? Took my seat in the Centenary stand and the test was over before I could finish my beer. Great having the Barmy Army on our shores. Looking forward to your next visit. Have a safe trip back.

  • china_cricket on January 18, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    "If we are honest we could easily be sat here 3-1 up," - but you aren't, it's 1-1. The English rearguard was as effective in two tests as the South African bowling was in the final test.

  • KingOwl on January 18, 2010, 2:19 GMT

    SA are clearly the best side in the world right now - despite not having a quality spinner. But they will not be dominant like the WI and Assuies of old. They will often lose when the conditions are unfavourable. But, they are the best of the lot. India's No. 1 ranking is just a fluke. But India are not too far behind. They, together with Aussies and S Lankans are next best (bunched together) - they will win when conditons are favourable - India on flat tracks, Assuies on Bouncy tracks, and SL on spinning tracks. England I think are rightly ranked at No. 5, right now. But they too are only marginally below the second ranked bunch of nations. The problem for England is not really lack of talent, but their whinging mentality. Overall, it is a good time or competitive test cricket!

  • SpiritoCricket on January 18, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    And if my Aunty was a man she would be my uncle. Congratulations to SA for drawing a series they should have won in a canter. My only question is that India South Africa will be 1v2 in the world and it is a 2 test series? This is ridiculous and although until recently they were scheduled to play 5 ODI's they should play at least three tests and not this farcical 2 test "series"