Captain Andrew Strauss had no complaints about handing over England's ranking of the world`s best Test team to South Africa today.
The Proteas' 51-run win at Lord`s allowed them to take the three-match series 2-0 and with it, whip the number one ranking from under their hosts` feet.
"This was an outstanding Test and there was some good, first-class cricket on show," Strauss told Sky Sports 1. "We were never the favourites today but the guys showed spirit and the attitude they showed was of great credit to the players. South Africa were the better side over the course of the series and thoroughly deserved their victory."
Chasing what would have been a record 346 to win, Strauss` men occasionally flirted with pulling off a great escape act with Matt Prior (73), Jonathan Trott (63), Jonny Bairstow (54) and Graeme Swann (41) all swinging the bat to great effect.
The accuracy of Vernon Philander (five for 30) tore them apart, though, and left Strauss planning a route back to the summit.
"You can`t fault the commitment, we gave it everything and this was how I expected it to pan out," he said.
"Small, tight margins. They were just better than us. I don`t look back on our time as number one with a great deal of fondness, as we had some tough times.
"That can be a good thing, though, as Test cricket tests you when you`re number one.
"We`ve learned a lot and it`s a shame to hand it over, but they deserve to be number one and we will come back."