Cook sees great future for England after crushing first Test victory over South Africa

Alastair Cook applauds supporters after England complete victory in the first Test against South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Alastair Cook applauds supporters after England complete victory in the first Test against South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

England blew South Africa away with ease on the final morning of the first Test to end 2015 with a crushing 241-run victory in Durban.

The result had been expected overnight but the clinical haste with which the tourists brushed aside the world’s No 1 side before lunch was a sight to behold.

They needed just 24 overs to pick up the required six wickets, with Stuart Broad pinning last man Morne Morkel lbw to leave the Proteas 174 all out.

Steven Finn finished with four for 42 and Moeen Ali three for 47.

And now captain Alastair Cook is ready for the good times to roll. It has been a mixed year for Cook’s side, including the sacking of Peter Moores, Ashes success under his replacement Trevor Bayliss and disappointing away series against the West Indies and Pakistan.

But there is a vibrancy about this England side that suggests a bright future.

They had not won in their previous four Tests before Kingsmead, but Cook was optimistic ahead of a brief two-day turnaround before the second Test in Cape Town.

“Over the last eight months the guys have taken big strides forward as a side. Potentially, this team can do some really good things,” he said.

Cook has seen too many turns of the wheel to be blinded by one result, particularly with the South African fortress of Newlands being their next port of call. But he is convinced the current squad are not in danger of over-confidence.

“The danger is the word complacency, but that won’t happen in our squad - that’s not where we’re at as a side,” he said. Cook drew particular attention to the efforts of returning batsman Nick Compton.

Two-and-a-half years since he was cast aside amid suggestions his face did not fit, the 32-year-old batted with rare discipline in the city of his birth.

He made a crucial 85 to dull an early South Africa charge on day one and added another diligent 49 in the second innings.

‘Nick came back after a few years out and was a rock in that first innings,” said Cook.

Compton said: “It’s a great dressing room. There are a lot of hungry guys who want to have long Test careers.”

One of those is Jonny Bairstow, who had an up-and-down match, batting more fluently than anyone else across two innings, but dropping Hashim Amla and missing a tricky stumping against AB De Villiers.

England are likely to retain faith in Bairstow for the New Year Test, with the only likely change being James Anderson for Chris Woakes.