Vaughan aware that road ahead will test England to the limit

Michael Vaughan's victorious side will have to wait 12 months before they are given the ultimate sporting accolade - a ticker-tape parade around central London in an open top bus. And quite rightly so.

Michael Vaughan's victorious side will have to wait 12 months before they are given the ultimate sporting accolade - a ticker-tape parade around central London in an open top bus. And quite rightly so. England's seventh consecutive Test victory, sealed on Saturday with an emphatic 10-wicket win over a broken West Indian side at the Oval, completed a historic summer. England last won seven in a row 75 years ago - eight victories would set a national record. But they still have some way to go before their success receives the same recognition as England's World Cup winning rugby team.

This should in no way belittle the achievements of the 15 players used by England during the past 14 weeks. Under the excellent leadership of Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, they have played with flair, courage, discipline and a smile. It has been a joy to watch. But the results have to be put in context. New Zealand and the West Indies arrived in England ranked as the seventh and eighth best Test-playing nations in the world.

Make no mistake, England are a good side - the best the country has produced for more than 20 years. In Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Graham Thorpe and himself Vaughan has four world-class players and others have continue to progress. Before this summer England would have felt they had plenty of batting and fast-bowling options but were still short of a wicket-keeping all-rounder and a match-winning spinner. But following the outstanding performances of Ashley Giles and Geraint Jones the selectors must now feel they have every department covered. But the pursuit of becoming the best team in the world does not begin and end with next summer's Ashes series against Australia.

England are ranked as the second best side in the world. This is debatable. In their last four series against South Africa and India England have drawn at home - 2-2 with South Africa in 2003 and 1-1 against India in 2002 - and lost away - 2-1 to South Africa in 1999-00 and 1-0 to India in 2001-02. Indeed England have to go back further than their last Ashes victory - in Australia in 1986-87 - to find a Test series that they have won in either of those countries.

The Ashes may be viewed as the most prestigious series in cricket, and by England as their holy grail, but Australia no longer see it as the ultimate challenge. Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowler, feels that defeating India, and particularly India in India, is the true test of greatness.

Two Test series in Sri Lanka last winter highlight the gulf between England and Australia. In a three-Test series before Christmas England lost 1-0 and it could easily have been 3-0 but for some dogged resistance from Vaughan's batsmen. Australia toured the same country six months later and won 3-0.

If England play as they have in 2004 they can push the Aussies close in 2005, but defeating South Africa this winter - something they have not managed to do for 40 years - is a more realistic short-term goal.

They will require Harmison to continuing bowling with hostility and verve and Flintoff to remain fit. In the last 12 monthsthese close friends have been magnificent. Harmison has taken 74 wickets at an average of 20.2, which has allowed him to become the first England bowler since Ian Botham in 1980 to top the world rankings.

Flintoff's form has made him the leading all-rounder in the world. Over the same period he has scored over 1,000 runs at an average of 49.6 and taken 46 wickets at a cost of 26.2.

Marcus Trescothick was given the honour of smashing the winning runs on Saturday but the bowling of James Anderson was the highlight of the day. The Lancashire seamer has had a miserable summer and the four wickets he took in the West Indian second innings were a significant contribution.

His first victim gave him the greatest pleasure, because with Brian Lara at the crease anything was still possible. But the West Indian captain failed to control a drive and the edge flew to Trescothick at first slip.

Lara acknowledged the crowd's standing ovation as he left the ground, a reaction suggesting this was his last Test innings in England. Lara will be 41 when the West Indies next tour here in 2010.

Chris Gayle belligerently smashed his way to a sixth Test hundred before falling to Anderson and Dwayne Bravo again highlighted his prodigious talent with a fighting 54. Both he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were unfortunate to be given out.

The West Indies' avoided an innings defeat, but their efforts only delayed England's celebrations by 10 minutes and three balls.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor