Rain helps England to break one-day drought

Weather plays key role to give tourists first 50-over series win in South Africa

England did not have to bowl a ball or play a shot to make history yesterday. Rain here – as perpetual as it was predictable – ensured that they secured their first one-day series win in South Africa.

It did not seem much in the gloom that has pervaded the country's second city for a week and in all truth was probably being overshadowed by events in the first. A lap of honour around Kingsmead, trophy held aloft by the tourists' captain Andrew Strauss being carried on the shoulders of his team-mates, was neither called for nor conducted.

But the victory by two matches to one may come to be seen as a significant turning point in the affairs of this England limited-overs team. If it was a result that had a little assistance from the weather because two of the five matches, the first and the fifth, were abandoned, it owed much more to the help they gave themselves.

It was achieved with a purposefulness and brio which indicated a different brand of one-day cricket than that purveyed for too long by England teams. They stayed true to their intention of taking the game to the opposition and if that can make them vulnerable – as demonstrated by the defeat in the third match in Cape Town – the wins in Centurion and Port Elizabeth amply demonstrated that it was a policy worth pursuing.

Nobody could have anticipated this. Not when England were being routed by India 5-0 a year ago and looked as though they would never win a one-day match again, so hapless were they made to appear. Not when, as recently as last September, Australia were dictating proceedings in England so easily that they won the first six matches of a seven-match series.

In between there had been wins in two series, home and away, against West Indies, but while the first of those in the Caribbean was welcome simply because it provided relief in a cataclysmic winter, all concerned recognised that the enduring fragility of the opposition might have contributed. It was after the Australian débâcle that the team management realised that changes had to be enforced.

This meant that some players were dropped – Owais Shah, for one, had to go, almost certainly never to return – but overwhelmingly it demanded a change of approach. It was first evident, astonishingly, in the Champions Trophy in South Africa in October, when some team claiming to be England came out slugging and shocked two of the tournament favourites, Sri Lanka and the host country.

England, suddenly, were prepared to take games by the scruff. The old diffidence and uncertainty, which often made it appear as though they thought the one-day game was second rate, were banished. There was a bitter irony to the fact that the initial charge was led by Shah, whose 98 from 89 balls shattered South Africa.

Shah departed when the team for the South Africa tour was announced but the policy was here to stay. Strauss (left, with trophy) himself has been one of its chief architects and has taken it upon himself to make sure it has worked.

He has been unrecognisable at the top of the order from the player who appeared in more than 80 one-day games for England only to be dropped in 2007. Circumstances created by the imbroglio over Kevin Pietersen's captaincy necessitated his recall and now here he is, reinvented.

Strauss has been short of runs lately but that has not stopped him attempting to pepper the boundary. He has been seen in this series advancing down the pitch to Dale Steyn, one of the world's fastest bowlers, and being quite prepared to fashion unusual shots by moving outside his stumps. If it has been most un-Strauss like, it has been a splendid example of leading from the front.

By circumstance rather than design, he has found a new opening partner in Jonathan Trott whose determined application has made him seem a natural international cricketer. Paul Collingwood appears to have gained a fresh lease of life and in Eoin Morgan, England have unearthed, or rather poached from Ireland, a fearless innovator who will never perish wondering.

The fielding has improved beyond measure, a squad of near athletes darting this way and that has replaced a team who thought diving was the preserve of Tom Daley. But there must still be doubts about the strength in depth of the squad.

From time to time the bowlers must be rotated but Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have become an authentic new-ball pairing. Tim Bresnan has been a revelation – far removed from the player who looked so short of the necessary quality when he first played in 2006 – and it may be that he is doing more than keeping Andrew Flintoff's seat warm. Flintoff indeed still has to prove his fitness.

The side seem at ease with themselves in a way that South Africa did not. It has been seven years since they lost a one-day series at home and they can never have appeared quite so apprehensive in all the years they have been playing one-day cricket.

It was an unsatisfactory conclusion yesterday and England, as Strauss is at pains to suggest, are far from the finished article. But they are a work in progress towards the World Cup in 2011 and it is a long time since that could be said.

Winners and Losers How England's team has changed

In they come

Andrew Strauss

One-day career resurrected when he assumed captaincy and has helped design a strategy for the team aimed at winning World Cup.

Eoin Morgan

Irishman can take breath away and is armed with an array of innovative shots to match anybody.

Tim Bresnan

Unrecognisable from debut in 2006, he appears to know his game and what he wants to do. Plenty of room for improvement yet.

Jonathan Trott

Might have made the side as opener, but rigorous self-discipline amid scepticism about his right to a place has been almost unnerving.

Out they go

Owais Shah

Was a victim of the management's determination that players can carry out at least two of three main cricketing elements.

Ravi Bopara

His game imploded last summer and it is a long way back for a man whose fielding is also short of the necessary virtues.

Ryan Sidebottom

Has been consigned back to the ranks partly because he is a one-dimensional player and his Test status is in potential jeopardy too.

Samit Patel

He has been a casualty of the determination to have a squad where fitness is a crucial tenet.

*England's ODI results since the Mumbai attacks forced them to leave India when 5-0 down in the series.

March-April 2009

England won in West Indies 3-2

May 2009

England beat West Indies 2-0

August 2009

England beat Ireland 1-0

September 2009

England lost to Australia 6-1

September-October 2009

England lost in semi-finals of Champions Trophy

December 2009

England won in South Africa 2-1

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
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

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?