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England v South Africa 4th Test

South Africa celebrate their series win
South Africa celebrate with the Basil D'Oliveira trophy at The Oval

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith chose to look at the bigger picture after his side's six-wicket defeat in the final Test against England at The Oval.

"We went slightly off the boil but credit to England, they had a lot to prove and they did it," said Smith, who was South Africa's man of the series.

The tourists' 2-1 series win is their first in England since re-admission.

"We've waited a long time for this moment. We came with that goal and I'm really chuffed to have done that."

Proudly clutching the impressive Basil D'Oliveira Trophy, he said: "I'm going to be carrying this trophy around with me all night and putting it next to me in bed.

"We didn't play as well here at The Oval but the series win was our goal."

It was the first time since 1965 that the South Africans have won in England and Smith added: "Each time you come here and don't do it the pressure builds, so to be the team that has come here and won is a fantastic effort by the guys.

We can always improve, the confidence we have gained can only benefit us, but to win in Australia is a whole new challenge

Graeme Smith

"We were 2-0 up after three and the high that we felt after Edgbaston was always going to be difficult to recreate, but it's been a collective effort and it's a team that has come a long way, in many ways, and I think it's a good thing this is the first team to win here."

Smith scored two pivotal centuries in the series, a match-saving one at Lord's and a winning one at Edgbaston. "Always as a captain you're under pressure to perform," he said. "To have played my part was important."

Veteran South Africa paceman Makhaya Ntini was the subject of criticism after taking only seven wickets in the first three matches, but Smith was delighted to see him take seven more at The Oval.

"There was a bit of bounce and he certainly exploited it. Pressure was on him as our senior bowler but for us it was never in doubt, you've got to be a bit patient and back him but he finished the series on a strong note and came through for us."


Star batsman Jacques Kallis did not come good with the bat, with an average of 14, but chipped in with 10 wickets and his captain said: "Jacques has been the glue of our batting for so long, probably this is the first time in nine years or so he has had a bad series so it was bound to happen.

"The key is to look how other guys have developed around him, we know he is a class player and it's just around the corner."

The next adventure for Smith's team, who consolidated their position as the number two Test side, is the chance to face the number one ranked Australia at home and away.

"We can always improve, the confidence we have gained can only benefit us, but to win in Australia is a whole new challenge," he said.

"Australia is one of the toughest places to play, mentally, physically and skill wise. Hopefully we have a bit of luck, everyone stays fit and finds their form early and if we are holding up a trophy there it would be fantastic."

see also
Jonathan Agnew column
10 Aug 08 |  Cricket
Graham Gooch's England ratings
11 Jul 08 |  Cricket
South Africa in England in 2008
02 Aug 08 |  Cricket

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