| England’s man of the moment James Kirtley raises his arms in joy after claiming one of his six wickets at Trent Bridge on Monday. (AFP)
Nottingham: England captain Michael Vaughan hailed Monday’s third Test victory over South Africa at Trent Bridge as “the best match of my career.”
England’s 70-run win gave Vaughan his first win as Test skipper after his reign had started with a crushing innings and 92-run second Test defeat at Lord’s.
England head to the Yorkshire batsman’s Headingley home ground, where the fourth Test gets underway on Thursday, with the five-Test series all square at one apiece.
“I’m obviously delighted to win the game and go to Headingley at 1-1 with that (Headingley) usually being a result wicket,” said Vaughan.
“We knew we had to get five wickets to keep the series alive,” said Vaughan after South Africa resumed on 63 for five. Test debutant James Kirtley bowled England to victory with six for 34 as South Africa, chasing 202 to win, ended 131 all out. Vaughan said the platform for England’s win had been laid on the first day when, after he won the toss, Mark Butcher (106) and former captain Nasser Hussain (116), shared a third-wicket stand of 189 that saw England recover from 29 for two.
Hussain welcomed his successor’s first win as England Test captain. “Michael is already a better captain than he was two or three weeks ago. The sooner England move on and win away from the Nasser Hussain era the better it will be.”
He said some habits die hard, like wanting to marshal the fielding. “Vaughny has said he wants 11 captains but the last thing you need is too many people setting the field. “I do find myself making suggestions to him but I’m old enough and ugly enough to accept that he’s the man in charge, and that’s how it should be.”
Vaughan said Hussain’s response had come as no surprise. “That’s just Nasser. You know when people have a little dig at him he fights, fights really hard. His innings settled the game. We could quite easily have been four or five wickets down.”
The captain conceded it had been a good toss to win after the pitch deteriorated sharply on the second day when South Africa batted. “It was not a flat pitch. We got the best of the conditions. But you still had to exploit the conditions and James (Kirtley) did it.”
The Sussex paceman, Man of the Match, said: “This is something I’ve always dreamed of. Moments like that don’t come around that often.”
Kirtley added that his success had been based on old-fashioned attributes. “I just kept it boring, tried to keep hitting the top of off-stump.”