Geoff Miller wants England to finish series with victory

ENGLAND'S selectors already feel vindicated by a successful tour of South Africa so far – but they are anticipating a grandstand finish in the final Test.

Andrew Strauss and his side have put themselves in an unbeatable position, 1-0 up with only the Wanderers Test to come, exceeding the expectations of many.

National selector Geoff Miller is well aware England have already surprised a majority of observers by following their Ashes victory with a win and two draws away to a team ranked top of the world up to last month. But he has set his sights on a second win in a match starting on Thursday, on what is noted as a 'result' pitch. "This has been a very, very difficult tour," he said. "We came out here, and people were questioning some of the selections – who we'd left out and who we'd actually picked.

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"Was our squad going to be strong enough to play against a team who were the best in the world? The answer is we've just beaten them in a one-day series – and not only that, we're 1-0 up with one to play in the Test series."

Injury concerns beset England at the start of a five-match ODI series but have since disappeared, allowing them to pick the same team in three Tests so far.

Much conjecture about their collective wisdom accompanied the decision to pick an extra batsman and only four bowlers in the first Test at Centurion. The jury was still out on the inclusion of Ian Bell to bat at No 6 after he failed twice in the first Test. But he has repaid the faith in spades since then with a big 100 in an innings victory at Durban and a match-saving 78 in Cape Town – delighting Miller.

"We're looking for continuity, and we hope they return that by performing on the field," said the national selector.

"Ian had a bit of a tough time. He was left out, and when the opportunity came back we didn't just bring him back straight away; we gave him the opportunity to go and sort his game out, which he did. We felt, and he felt, that if he got that chance again he could do it – and he has done it, on two occasions."

Miller does not warm to comparisons between the achievements of winning the Ashes and doing so well in South Africa – but he is happy to see England follow one notable performance with another.

"I wouldn't say this exceeds it. They are different series altogether. We appreciated this was going to be a tough tour. This side is starting to move forward; it's a very good unit, with a very good atmosphere – and we've got some quality players. I'm very optimistic. I like the way it's going. I'm not particularly looking for a draw in the series – I'm looking for us to actually go out and win this game."