Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Reaps Reward as Fortune Favours the Brave; Rival Smith Talks the Talk but Fails to Deliver

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Reaps Reward as Fortune Favours the Brave; Rival Smith Talks the Talk but Fails to Deliver

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE VEYSEY

ENGLAND will fully deserve their first series victory in South Africa in 40 years.

In the final analysis they have played better cricket than their closely matched opponents during the five enthrallingly topsy-turvy Tests.

In each game England have been under the cosh and in danger of defeat yet they have displayed the mental strength to stay in the game before seizing the initiative with real aplomb. Only in Cape Town were they unable to engineer a Lazarus-like revival that has become their trademark over the last 12 months.

They have not quite hit the dizzy heights of last summer but the confidence gained from their record-breaking run of eight consecutive Test wins has been a crucial factor when games have hung in the balance.

In Durban, England came back from the dead to nearly pinch one of the greatest Test victories, only to be denied by murky light. In Johannesburg, Marcus Trescothick took the game away from the home side on the fifth day with a brilliant century before Matthew Hoggard bowled the home side out in two sessions and ensured that he will never be underestimated again. Apart from the incomparable Andrew Strauss, undoubtedly England's man of the series, and Andrew Flintoff with the ball in his hand, consistency has often eluded the visitors.

The ludicrously jammed schedule of 25 days of Test cricket in 40 days and the quality of their opponents are obvious explanations for this.

But there have been match-winning and match-turning performances in abundance. This was never more apparent than yesterday when Graham Thorpe and Geraint Jones, who have both had indifferent series, snuffed out South Africa's last chance of glory.

England take the lead from their captain and his refreshingly aggressive approach to captaincy.

Vaughan's increasingly fallible batting has undoubtedly suffered from the responsibility of leadership but he has outthought Graeme Smith in this series. …

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