— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 26, 2016
Man-of-the-series Ben Stokes says England should be proud of their series win in South Africa despite losing the fourth Test by 280 runs at Centurion.
The Proteas took little more than an hour to dismiss England for 101 on the final morning and claim a consolation win.
But Stokes says that should not overshadow impressive performances in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, with the tourists already having secured the series before a below-par showing in the final Test.
“It’s not ideal to finish on a sour note like that, but the series is done and we’ve beaten the best team in the world,” Stokes told ecb.co.uk.
“Looking back we wouldn’t have wanted it to end like that.
“It was a deteriorating pitch; batting was getting quite tough on it even from day two so it was one of those that if a ball was in your scoring area the best thing to do is play your shots.”
Durham all-rounder Stokes emerged as man-of-the-series after scoring 258 at Newlands – the fastest double-century by an Englishman – and picking up 12 wickets in addition to 411 runs.
And the 24-year-old says beating the world’s top Test side on their own patch is an experience that only last summer’s Ashes triumph has rivalled so far in his career.
“It’s the first away result I’ve had in an England shirt,” he added. “Obviously you can’t compare it to the Ashes throughout the summer, but when we won that third Test match the feeling was very close.
“We’ve beaten a really good team.
“We won the crucial moments; the turning point was [Stuart] Broady’s spell where he ran through South Africa.
“The game was evenly poised, we ha d a 10-run lead I think, so to bowl them out for 80 really changed the series for us and laid the gauntlet down for where we are as a team.”
On his epic innings in the drawn second Test Stokes continued: “Getting back home it will be nice to look back on, I’ve had a lot of praise for it.
“It’s nice to be recognised for stuff throughout a series but the most important thing for me has been the consistency – that’s been the best part of this trip so far.
“I didn’t slack off after Cape Town like I could have done. I’ve worked hard with ball and bat and it’s paid off.”