Evergreen James Anderson took three wickets as England's seamers steered their side to victory over South Africa by an innings and 85 runs just before the close of the third day of the second Test at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The tourists were bowled out for 179 in their second innings with Anderson taking 3-30 as he became the leading wicket-taker among pace bowlers across all formats by moving past Australian Glenn McGrath's total of 949 with his second scalp.
The tourists had resumed their second innings on 23 without loss after England's mammoth 415-9 on Friday, but Anderson and fellow seamer Ollie Robinson (4-43) were excellent with their line and length to level the three-match series at 1-1.
The third Test will be at The Oval from Sept. 8. South Africa won the first match by an innings and 12 runs at Lord's.
"It's amazing to come back from last week's disappointment at Lord's to put in the performance we have done. It gives us a lot of confidence and sets up the series nicely," England captain Ben Stokes said at the post-match presentation.
"It was one of those wickets where you didn't think you could hit through the line (as a batsman), some balls bounced and others skidded through."
"The progression from us (as a team) has been if you have that clear mindset and the positivity to score, that makes things a lot easier."
England had toiled through the middle session without taking a wicket. But once they removed Keegan Petersen (42) and Rassie van der Dussen (41), who was batting with a broken finger and will play no further part in the series, they raced through the tail, aided by the new ball.
Anderson, from the end of the ground that is named after him, showed none of his 40 years, as he bowled with vigour and accuracy to remove visiting captain Dean Elgar (11), Simon Harmer (16) and Kagiso Rabada (2).
Robinson was drafted back into the side after missing the Lord’s test and was excellent too with his pace and nagging line. Elgar may well rue winning the toss and electing to bat first under overcast skies on day one, which now looks a poor decision, but England also exposed the visitors' vulnerable top six on a helpful wicket having bowled them out in the first innings for 151.
It was not quite the ‘Bazball’ style of earlier in the summer, but England captain Ben Stokes’ 103 and Ben Foakes unbeaten 113 on Friday took the game away from the visitors and they finshed the job in three days.
Van der Dussen will be replaced in the squad by all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, which might earn a reprieve for batsman Aiden Markram, who failed again on Saturday with a score of six and is on a poor run of form.
"England were far better than us through the three days," Elgar said. "We had a plan coming here, but first innings runs are important in Test cricket."
"We have a lot of learnings and quite a few days before the next test, so we will go back to the drawing board."