Joe Root has recalled the “fantastic moment” he hit the winning run at the Wanderers to secure England a series triumph over South Africa with one Test to play.
The Yorkshireman, at the crease alongside James Taylor, clipped a single into the leg side off part-time spinner Dean Elgar to complete a seven-wicket victory that was beyond the tourists’ wildest dreams at the start of play on day three.
England resumed 75 runs behind the Proteas’ first-innings 313 but after Jonny Bairstow’s 45 helped secure a 10-run lead, Stuart Broad took centre stage.
The paceman triggered a dramatic afternoon collapse with a wonderful spell of fast bowling, taking 6-17 to skittle South Africa for just 83.
“There was a lot of enjoyment,” first-innings centurion Root told ecb.co.uk. “Seeing the balcony when you run through for that final single, the enjoyment on their faces. There was a bit of relief as well to be there at the end.
“Everything that followed, seeing the guys having a great time celebrating what was a brilliant achievement. That is the thing that sticks out for me, seeing all that hard work that everyone puts in and what it means to everyone in the dressing room.
“You just go with the moment, I suppose. It was good to see little Titch out there in the end. He had a massive grin on his face.
“You play cricket to win and to enjoy those special moments like last night. To sit in the dressing room with the rest of the guys and be able to celebrate with them, that is what it is all about. Hopefully that can happen more and more in the future.”
Root played an integral role in the series-clinching victory in Johannesburg, halting an early South Africa charge with a century in difficult conditions.
The right-hander was at the crease when England were in a spot of bother, slipping to 22 for two and then 91 for four, but counter-attacked his side out of trouble alongside Ben Stokes.
Root battled cramp on a lively Wanderers wicket to compile 106, an innings that was described by many as the best of his nine Test tons to date.
“It stands out to me as one of those top innings,” he said. “More than anything, it was great to be in a game which is instrumental in the series.
“You always pride yourself on contributing to winning games of cricket and thankfully I can say that in this game.
“A phenomenal effort from Stuart, the way he bowled was absolutely outstanding, backed up by the rest of the guys at the other end.
“You have to look at it as it wasn’t going to be your most fluent innings. You were going to have to play and miss if you were going to score runs, but you had to take every opportunity you had to score.
“If that meant trying to latch on anything wide or short, so be it. You always had to put them under pressure because you always felt if they were allowed to bowl a certain area you were going to get out.
“A lot of credit has to go to Ben. When he came out and played the way he did, he put the bowlers off their mark and back under pressure and they were not able to just run up and land the ball on the same spot six balls in a row.
“That was the defining innings in my eyes because it completely flipped the game on its head and they were no longer allowed to just bowl at us.”
Root is refusing to rest on his laurels despite England, who host Sri Lanka and Pakistan this summer, securing their first overseas Test series win in four years.
“It was a fantastic moment for this group of players and now it is about keep improving and moving up those ranking points,” he added.
“It doesn’t really matter if someone gets a hundred or a five-for. When we win, it is all about that group of players enjoying themselves and making sure we appreciate what an achievement it is, especially winning here in South Africa.
“It is a phenomenal effort from this group of players and sticks out in my mind as a massive achievement, something we can now build on and keep improving as a side.”