Johannesburg:South Africa's fast bowling duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel finally delivered as the host nation squared the series with an emphatic innings and 74-run win on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
"Steyn and Morkel were excellent on this wicket," said England captain Andrew Strauss after England were bowled out for 169 in their second innings in the last over before lunch.
South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who shared the man of the series award with England off-spinner Graeme Swann, said he wouldn't yet rate them ahead of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock as a pair of fast bowlers he had kept wicket to but he felt they had 'the potential to be up there with the best that have ever played the game'.
Steyn and Morkel took seven wickets each and were named joint men of the match. Morkel sent the game hurtling to an early finish with a spell of three wickets for no runs in seven balls on Sunday morning. He finished with four for 59.
Only the obdurate Paul Collingwood stood firm for England, scoring 71 on a morning during which seven wickets fell for 121 runs.
It was a pitch tailor-made for the South African pair, according to Strauss.
"On wickets that have a bit of bounce, that's playing in their hands," he said.
"Morkel has the bounce and Steyn the swing.
"Their first spells are as good as anything you'll see in world cricket. We felt that if we could get them into their second or third spells things would get a bit easier but we weren't able to do that often enough."
Both captains had regrets about sharing the honours after a hard-fought series.
England went into the match 1-0 up in the series after winning by an innings and 98 runs in the second Test in Durban.
The first and third Tests in Centurion and Cape Town were drawn, with England nine down in their second innings on both occasions.
"We could easily be sitting here 3-1 up," said South Africa's skipper Graeme Smith, reflecting on South Africa's inability to take the final wicket in the drawn Tests.
"But we lacked the knockout punch and that is the way the game goes. But it is great to have played such convincing cricket in this match."
Smith said the Wanderers pitch had not been nearly as difficult as had been suggested in the pre-match build-up.
"It had something for everyone," he said.
"It had spin, it had pace and bounce and the batters who applied themselves got runs."
Of those attributes, the most important from South Africa's point of view was the pace and bounce after pitches in the drawn matches which Smith said 'got slower and slower as the games went on'.
Strauss said the heavy defeat 'leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth'. He said England had prepared well and had been determined to finish the tour with a series win to go along with their win in a one- day series.
"But I'm very proud of the way the team performed over the ten weeks we've been here," said Strauss.
"To win the one-day series was a huge achievement and we halved the Test series against one of the best teams in the world."
Strauss said he felt England had improved.
"We've shown resilience and we're a hard side to beat, which are good attributes. But we're not clinical enough, not consistent enough."
England will play a Test series in Bangladesh next month and it is not yet certain whether Strauss will lead the side there.
The touring squad will be announced in Johannesburg on Monday and Strauss said he would be at the announcement press conference.
The South Africans, meanwhile, make a brief return to domestic cricket before gearing up for a tour of India next month.
"It's a whole new world touring India," said Smith.
"Not many teams go there and perform well. Last time we were there we drew the Test series 1-1. We've got a few challenges. A good aggressive mindset going into those conditions is always crucial."