Plunkett shows warrior spirit so lacking in Harmison

England have demolished a lacklustre Australia. A tour that started in a tunnel of wretchedness has ended in a sudden blaze of glory. Throughout the last fortnight the visitors have been the better side. Andrew Flintoff's beleaguered outfit have played with unsuspected energy and previously unseen conviction. Australia were left to reflect upon the dangers of losing momentum. Never give a sucker an even break.

It is almost impossible to pinpoint the precise moment the turnaround began. Certainly, the teams have not undergone any radical rethink. England fielded much the same outfit who have for several months been battered and beaten, though not, as it has turned out, into submission. Australia remain resounding on paper and will go to the Caribbean as favourites to win the World Cup. It is just that cricket is not played on paper or even solely on the field. It is also played in the minds of men.

As always, the manner in which power changed hands was instructive. Success in sport hangs by a thread. No team are invulnerable, none beyond hope. Conceivably, for Australia, the senior players' yearning for a rest affected morale. Andrew Symonds' injury was also crucial, leaving a gaping hole in the batting and causing a reconstruction, with a spinner, Brad Hogg, and an all-rounder, Shane Watson, replacing two hard-hitting middle-order men. Ever since Australia have not looked as well balanced.

Among the Englishmen, the rise of two Durhamites has been the most significant development.Paul Collingwood and Liam Plunkett were the finals' outstanding figures. Collingwood was superb, collecting runs with well-crafted strokes, never trying to hit the ball too hard, always looking for a gap. Superb anywhere in the field, too, and calm with the ball, he has shown that a man untouched by brilliance may yet meet the greatest of challenges.

Plunkett was a revelation. He has been the counterpoint to Steve Harmison. Whereas the talented beanpole yearned for the quiet life, his younger county colleague displayed a relish for battle. He stands tall at the crease, keeps a line and swings the white ball late. A summer that began with a sorrowful wide ended with a fine stint from a younger man with plenty of fire in his belly. Over the last fortnight, Plunkett has been the best bowler on either side.

Not that the northerners alone deserve credit. Monty Panesar was outstanding, and Ed Joyce has performed brightly. The last moment of the tour was also the most touching. Flintoff's captaincy has been criticised. No one, though, has ever doubted his heart. Throughout he has refused to complain or blame his players. He deserved his moment of rejoicing. England have been led by sharper tacticians but none more admirable.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little