'The sky is the limit for us now' – Root
‘The sky is the limit’ for England captain Joe Root after his side completed a 3-1 rout of South Africa at the Wanderers on Monday.
The win for England was a ‘very special one’ where they had to overcome plenty of adversities. Right before the start of the series, half of their squad members were down with illness.
Jack Leach, selected as their first choice spinner for this series, had to return back home to battle multiple illnesses. After a long wait, Burns had nailed the opening slot but he was ruled out of the tour due to ankle problem. Jofra Archer and James Anderson suffered injuries which kept them out of the series.
"If you look at where we were after that first game, to pick ourselves up and play the way we have in the last three games is really pleasing," said Root. "It has taken a big effort from everyone and it was very much a squad effort."
Root praised the young players including Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley and Ollie Pope for the way they had stepped up in tough environment. "I do think we are at the start of something," he said.
"We've got to keep looking to learn and keep getting better but it's been a fantastic tour for us as a Test team. It's been a real squad effort with a number of guys who are at the start of their international careers."
"I think the sky is the limit for us right now," he added.
England came up against some dogged resistance by the hosts on Monday before a double strike by Mark Wood and Ben Stokes triggered a batting collapse. South African captain Faf du Plessis was removed for 35 whereas Rassie van der Dussen fell only two runs short of his maiden Test hundred.
'England were better than us' - Du Plessis
Mark Wood ended the Test with nine wickets in the Test match including four in the second innings. South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said England deserved to win.
"We said after the first Test that one Test doesn't make a summer. After that England were just a little bit better than us in every game in every department."
Ben Stokes was the game changer in the series, producing game-changing performances to lift his side throughout the Test series. He changed the course of the match with both bat and ball in the second Test, smashing a hundred in the third Test in Port Elizabeth and providing crucial breakthroughs in the final Test at the Wanderers.
It was his second successive player of the series award in South Africa, having won the award back in 2015, where he smashed a breathtaking double hundred at the Newlands. “Playing against South Africa is always such a competitive series. I really enjoy the competition," he said.
Stokes also paid tribute to his father Ged, who was admitted to the hospital before the start of the series due to serious illness. "I hope the old man is watching this in his hospital bed with a smile on his face," said Stokes.
Vernon Philander, making his final international appearance for South Africa, ended his career on a slightly lower note as he could only bowl nine balls in the second innings before pulling up his hamstring. He didn’t bowl again.
But Du Plessis said Philander was a ‘tremendous achiever and a champion guy off the field as well’.
Philander took 224 wickets in 64 Tests at 22.32 apiece. England and South Africa will now square off in a three match ODI series starting February 4.