Head Coach Trevor Bayliss believes a collective team effort was the key to their 2-1 Test series victory away to South Africa.
England ended their four-match series with a 280-run defeat in the fourth Test at Centurion but despite the manner in which they lost, Bayliss was proud of the achievement of his side.
The 53-year-old can add an away Test victory against the world top-ranked Test team to their Ashes triumph last summer and as well as acknowledging individual moments of brilliance from man-of-the-series Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, the Australian felt that everyone played a vital role in the series.
“It wasn’t one person in particular, everyone in the line-up scored runs and I think that’s a good sign,” he told ecb.co.uk.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 26, 2016
“It was a team performance, it wasn’t dominated by one or two guys throughout.
“Obviously the innings of Ben Stokes in partnership with Jonny Bairstow was fantastic, I mean you look back at it and we didn’t win that Test so it’s a sign that it was a team performance which is good for team harmony going forward.
“Certainly that was a decisive spell (Broad taking 6-17) in the third Test but Ben Stokes, his all-round capabilities, he took plenty of wickets but, again, it was a team effort.”
With no Test cricket until their Investec three-Test home series against Sri Lanka in May, Bayliss feels that he is close to knowing his best XI.
“I don’t think we’re far away from it to be honest,” he added.
“Yes, I’m sure there would be a few players in this team who would have liked to have done a little bit better in this series.
“I think each of those guys have shown glimpses of what they are capable of and at the moment if you look at the county scene they are our best performing players so they certainly have some work to do.
“But it’s also a message to those county players back home, if I can score some runs early in the season and put some pressure on, there might be an opportunity for me.”
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) January 26, 2016
After losing the series 2-1, South Africa were replaced by India as the number-one Test side in the International Cricket Council rankings but in a sport dependant on fine margins, Bayliss remained optimistic on England reaching top spot.
But he admitted it was important for the team to ‘get it right’ when a series has already been won.
“That can be a hurdle, but the best teams, and if this team wants to be the best team or one of the best teams in the world then we’ve got to learn to win in those tough situations where there’s not a lot riding on it,” Bayliss added.
“In the end it is a Test match but the best teams are the ones who are able to win those series to nil and certainly that’s one of our challenges going forward.”