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And the band played on

Posted in England in South Africa 2009-10

The band and bright colours at St George's produced a wonderful party atmosphere but England were the only team celebrating in Port Elizabeth after thrashing the home side to take a 2-1 lead in the one-day series.

On a day when everything went right for Andrew Strauss and his team, it was Jimmy Anderson who stole the show with 5-23 - his best figures in one-day cricket.

Even the dozen or so burly wannabe Incredible Hulks, grazing on the busy grassy bank daubed head to toe in green body paint, had nothing on Super Jim, England's very own superhero.

England were on top from the start - despite Strauss losing the toss - with Anderson leading the charge but backed up superbly by Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Paul Collingwood, who can't seem to do anything wrong at the moment.

The tourists were exemplary in the field too with Strauss and Luke Wright left to argue over who took the best catch. Wright got my vote - one-handed, diving backwards at mid-on - just pipping the skipper's fine sprawling effort in the gully.

Strauss and Jonathan Trott paved the path to victory with an opening stand of 74 but that did not deter the locals who seemed intent to enjoy themselves regardless of the result.

From a rousing rendition of the national anthem as the two sides lined up before the first ball to the last few notes played by the wedding reception-style band, the ground was a cacophany of noise in spite of South Africa taking a pasting.

Flags were waved throughout and songs were sung as Sunday was danced away. There was even time for a bare-chested fan to lead a small pocket of fans through a version of the Haka.

England & JP Duminy

Jimmy Anderson celebrates the wicket of JP Duminy as England coasted to a seven-wicket win in Port Elizabeth

If ever the noise dimmed slightly then the band sprung into action to whip the crowd up again. Even a toot on a trumpet was met with an enthusiastic 'ole'.

The band ran through their playlist which included 'YMCA' by the Village People, 'Gimme hope Jo'anna' and 'Lean on Me' amongst others. The South African ship might have been sinking but the band played on. Just like the one on board the Titanic.

It is not hard to see why Port Elizabeth is known as the friendly city - even the members of the press were given a goody bag and an official one-day series tie in garish blue.

In the bag was a yellow hat on which is splashed the football World Cup emblem, just in case anyone had forgotten the biggest show on earth is coming to South Africa next summer.

Expect more singing and dancing when sport's biggest party comes to town.

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