England paceman James Anderson paid tribute to the whole bowling attack after the hosts wrapped up a massive victory over India in the fifth Test at The Oval.
The tourists were subjected to a second straight loss inside three days as England sealed a 3-1 Investec series success with an innings-and-244-run win, Chris Jordan picking up a career-best 4-18 after Joe Root’s brilliant unbeaten 149.
Anderson, who was named man of the series, moved ever closer to Ian Botham’s all-time England record Test wicket-taking tally of 383 with figures of 2-16 taking him to 380, and afterwards was keen to spread the praise to Stuart Broad, Jordan, Chris Woakes.
“It’s right up there... it’s the best I’ve probably bowled, yeah,” he said of his own form.
He continued: “The way the whole group has bowled has been outstanding since Southampton. We’ve got on top of their batsmen and not let them get back in any of the games we’ve played. We’ve created pressure non-stop. That’s a credit to all – not just the four seamers, but Moeen Ali as well.”
On what had changed since the loss at Lord’s, he said: “We decided to concentrate not on plans for particular batsmen, but on what we do well – hitting the top as much as we could, challenge their outside edge, challenging their forward defence. And I think as we’ve gone on through last three Tests we’ve improved on that in each game.”
Broad felt his team were fully deserving of their three-day victory.
“We knew if we did similar to the first innings and got the ball full enough to encourage the drive, we’d have results,” he explained.
“Obviously we didn’t dream we’d get 10 wickets as quickly as that, but we deserved it. We put a lot of hard work in all summer.”
Man of the match Root hailed the way the team had bounced back after the Lord’s defeat.
“It was a tough time,” he said.
“To bounce back like we did has shown a lot of character. A lot of guys have had to dig deep. It’s really pleasing to see the way we’ve finished it off.”
Asked what had changed in his approach, he replied: “Just generally looking to score – I think I’d got into a place where I was just looking to survive in the winter – and just trying to put pressure on the bowlers when I get the opportunity to. Hopefully that can continue and I can keep improving.”
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged his team had fallen way short of the mark with the bat.
“I think today’s batting was reflective of a batting order that has lost a lot of confidence over a period of time,” he said at the post-match ceremony.
He added: “Many youngsters have not played over here. Also not many have played Test cricket outside the sub-continent. It’s a very important moment for them. They’ll learn and in coming years when they come back they’ll be much better.”
The comprehensive series triumph was the perfect response for Alastair Cook, having had his captaincy questioned, and he was delighted with his team’s resilience.
“It’s great to have the support of the guys throughout the tough times,” he said. “And in the good times, like now, it makes it all worthwhile.”
He continued: “It’s an amazing turnaround. After Lord’s, to have won like we’ve won the last three games, the guys can take a huge amount of credit, and also the new coaching staff – obviously Peter Moores and Paul Farbrace, along with the other guys, they’ve made a massive difference.”
Cook was keen to let his players bask in the glory of their latest win before thinking about their next Test assignment in the Caribbean in April.
“It is a shame,” he said of the lack of imminent Test action. “They’ll be very different conditions in West Indies. But I don’t think we can worry about that.”