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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
England light up The Oval
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent at The Oval

Steve Hrmison celebrates another wicket
It was easily Harmison's best performance for England
One of England's most extraordinary Test victories was completed at five past two on the final afternoon of the summer.

With The Oval bathed in sunlight, and more than 11,000 watching, the only missing ingredient was Alec Stewart who, rather than hitting the final run, was sitting in the dressing room.

Still, England could not have everything!

Much to everyone's surprise, South Africa surrendered meekly on Monday morning, losing their their last four wickets for 44 runs in only 12 overs.

The rot set in when Martin Bicknell lured Mark Boucher into chasing a swinging half volley well wide of the off stump and, next ball, Andrew Hall completed an extraordinary feat - a third golden duck of the series - when he prodded a catch to Ed Smith at midwicket.

Shaun Pollock made 43 before steering Harmison to point, and a brilliant diving one-handed catch by Smith at short leg finished the innings, and gave Steve Harmison his fourth wicket for only 33.

It was easily Harmison's best display for England and one that might secure him a place on the winter tour after all.

Small targets are notoriously difficult to chase with the pressure on and had Marcus Trescothick been caught by Hall at slip in only the second over of England's reply, who knows what might have happened.

The season has ended in smiles and one might be entitled to ask: "Crisis! What crisis?"
But the only casualty en route to victory was Michael Vaughan who chased a wide, short ball from Jacques Kallis and was caught behind for 13.

This, no doubt, will raise further questions about his form and whether or not it is being affected by his captaincy, but that can wait for now.

When one reflects on the chaotic nature of English cricket after the first Test at Edgbaston when Nasser Hussain threw in the towel, Darren Gough retired and Stewart made it known that he was also on the way out, it is quite an achievement for England to have squared the series.

Their cricket has been as inconsistent as ever, but the season has ended in smiles and when we reflect on the series win over Zimbabwe, one day triumphs against Pakistan and in the NatWest tournament, one might be entitled to ask: "Crisis! What crisis?"





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