Stuart Broad produced the best bowling figures of his professional career, and Matt Prior followed up his haul of six catches with a rumbustious 45 not out from 36 balls, as South Africa were subjected to the heaviest and most humiliating defeat in their 406-match ODI history. From start to finish the contest lasted a mere 37.1 overs, 23 of which were used up by the South Africans themselves, as England routed them for 83, their second worst total after the 69 they made against Australia at Sydney in 1993-94.
It was a performance of utter dominance from England, who have undergone a renaissance in the weeks since Kevin Pietersen took over as captain. On this occasion, however, the plaudits belonged to the least heralded member of their pace attack, a man whose cutting edge has occasionally been called into question in his first full year of international cricket. In front of his home crowd at Nottinghamshire, Broad scotched all such notions by producing a waspish length on the line of off stump, and for once found the edge, as he surged to his first five-wicket haul in all limited-overs cricket.
There wasn't even a morsel of comfort for South Africa to take from the match, and afterwards Graeme Smith felt obliged to apologise to a packed crowd for the early curtailment to their evening's entertainment. Doubtless he repeated those sentiments to the Trent Bridge authorities, who were unable to showcase their spanking new floodlights. The cricket that did take place, however, was pretty spectacular, as England racked up their third ten-wicket win in ODIs, and their first since Bangladesh were beaten by the same margin in 2005.
Having lost the first ODI by 20 runs on Friday, South Africa won the toss and batted, in the hope of kickstarting their campaign. Instead they were derailed by a spell of four wickets in 17 balls from Broad, after which their innings was in tatters on 27 for 4. His first victim was Herschelle Gibbs, who had time for one trademark pull through midwicket off James Anderson before inside-edging an offcutter to give Prior the first of his six catches - a tally that has not been equalled by an England wicketkeeper since Alec Stewart managed that many against Zimbabwe at Old Trafford in 2000.
It was a timely haul for Prior, whose stock has risen this summer while Tim Ambrose's has fallen, and the second of his takes - a one-handed leap in front of first slip to remove Smith for 9 - drew gasps of admiration from his team-mates, not to mention surprise from his detractors. With confidence coursing through his veins, he epitomised the attitude of the entire England team, and having rushed the team to victory with the bat, his recall to the Test side seems sure to be rubber-stamped at the end of next month.
South Africa's confidence never recovered from Broad's early blows, and he added two more wickets in his first five overs. Jacques Kallis, whose form has been floundering all tour long, flashed wildly outside off stump for Owais Shah to snaffle a comfortable edge at first slip then, after clubbing two fours off Anderson, JP Duminy poked half-heartedly outside off stump.
There was, however, no respite in prospect, because into the carnage rumbled Andrew Flintoff, who ripped AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher from the crease in a performance of brute hostility. Despite a lengthy delay to receive strapping to his injured left toe, Flintoff's aggression was as pumped as his team's performance, as both men were backed into the crease by bouncers then beaten by the fuller length - de Villiers was pinned lbw for 5, Boucher caught-behind for 10.
All the while, Steve Harmison was being held back from the attack, as Pietersen understandably allowed Broad to bowl his full quota of ten overs in a row. Broad responded with his fifth wicket with the second ball of his final over, as Johan Botha drove at a full length and was adjudged caught-behind, at which stage his figures were a remarkable 5 for 11 from 9.2 overs.
Andre Nel swiped some of that gloss by mowing Broad through the leg side for three boundaries from his final four balls, but Harmison needed just one delivery to end that short-lived counterattack - Luke Wright steadied himself at mid-on to pouch a predictable top-edged hoick. Four balls and one slogged boundary later, Albie Morkel's return to South African colours had also ended tamely, with Prior again the beneficiary of a weak dab outside off. It was left to Flintoff to round up the innings with a yorker to Dale Steyn, and South Africa's humiliation was nearly complete.
All that remained was England's batting, and they never threatened to falter. Ian Bell dropped anchor for 28 from 51 balls as Prior cut loose, and the closest that South Africa came to a breakthrough were a pair of free-hit "catches" after Steyn twice overstepped. Prior launched Makhaya Ntini down the ground for six then wrapped up the match with a fierce mow through midwicket, to put the seal on a memorable triumph for England.