England future brighter with Harmison back
England duly achieved their victory with only an occasional hiccup or two, lifting morale in a dressing room that was in real need of a boost.
As we all expected, South Africa have proved a much greater challenge than New Zealand and in order to gauge where England stand in the scheme of things, we should all pay close attention to the forthcoming series between Australia and South Africa.
England remain frustratingly unpredictable and inconsistent. Bear in mind that they should have lost the Manchester Test to New Zealand - and yet they could have forced an overwhelming victory over South Africa at Lord's.
Indeed had they fielded this side at Lord's, with a strengthened attack including Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, they almost certainly would have done. The balance of the team - whether to play four bowlers or five - continues to provoke debate, particularly because of the effect it has on the wicketkeeper.
Matt Prior must be strongly favoured to return to the Test team - but he will be praying that he doesn't do anything to blot his copy book during the one-day series which starts next week.
Harmison's recall has had a dramatic effect - not necessarily in terms of wickets here, but he bowled menacingly and England's future looks a good deal more optimistic with him back to his best.
When he and Matthew Hoggard lost their places in February, Hoggard looked the more likely to return one day. Now, even the Yorkshireman himself accepts that his international career is probably over.
It is good news that the performance squad will gather in India one month before the Test series gets underway in December.
That ensures that Harmison will have every opportunity to be in the best possible shape, and this could also be an opportunity for Simon Jones to continue his carefully monitored return.
I thought, generally, Kevin Pietersen made a good start as captain here, given that he has so little experience and he will learn lessons every match. India might be especially tough, but valuable at the same time, and whether Michael Vaughan is there to support him remains very much up to Vaughan.
He needs to score heavily for Yorkshire, but has the time to do so before the end of the season. Personally, I think it is unlikely that he will return quite so quickly, and it might also do him good to follow Andrew Strauss's example last winter, and take time to play some cricket overseas with a view to challenging for a place to the West Indies.