Alastair Cook could scarcely comprehend England’s achievement in thumping South Africa by seven wickets with more than 24 overs unused in today’s Champions Trophy semi-final.
England’s bowlers took advantage of Cook opting to field first in very humid conditions at The Oval to reduce the Proteas to 80 for eight.
Although South Africa’s record ninth-wicket stand of 95 between David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt lifted them to 175 all out in 38.4 overs, the hosts knocked off the runs with 12.3 overs to spare shortly before 5pm thanks mainly to 82 not out from Jonathan Trott and Joe Root’s 48.
James Anderson, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad did the early damage in South Africa’s innings before man of the match James Tredwell took three wickets in four mid-innings overs for eventual figures of 3-19 from seven.
Cook admitted: “If you said we were going to win by seven wickets by five o’clock today as we walked to the ground, obviously we would almost have laughed at you.
“Clearly it was a good toss to win. It just did enough and it swung, the first time the white ball has swung conventionally in this tournament.
“It was probably down to the muggy conditions. It was obviously quite warm out there today.
“When it does swing like that there’s no bowler in the world you would want other than Jimmy bowling with it.
“He was outstanding and the other guys backed him up, Finny with the crucial wicket of Amla and ‘tricky’ Tredders as well bowing very well.”
If Cook could barely believe the result, England could hardly have made a better start than a wicket in each of the first two overs and South Africa being 50 for four before Tredwell, playing in place of the injured Graeme Swann, weaved his magic.
Trott and Root later shared a century partnership to calm any England nerves after Cook and Ian Bell fell early in the reply.
“It was an outstanding first two hours of cricket from us really,” Cook reflected. “We kept asking them questions with the ball. We never let them get away.
“Normally there is a partnership and there was a partnership later on, and maybe we didn’t quite get that right, that last little bit. But 80 for eight, you don’t often lose many games from there.
“It was a very, very professional performance from the lads. I thought the way we knocked off the runs, again there’s no guy you want walking out at number three (other than Trott) in that situation. He delivers time and time again, Trotty, like that and he played very well.”
There was further happy news for England away from The Oval with the safe arrival of Tim Bresnan’s first child - Max Geoffrey - at 3pm. Bresnan therefore missed today’s game to be with his wife Hannah.
“That’s fantastic news,” Cook enthused. “For us it’s been a pretty good day. The guys are pretty chuffed for him.”