Cape Town - England captain Joe Root described Ben Stokes as a "golden nugget" after the all-rounder produced a match-clinching spell of bowling to secure a 189-run win inside the last hour of the fifth day of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands on Tuesday.
The win levelled the four-match World Test championship series.
"He's just a fantastic specimen," Root said of Stokes, who was named man of the match after innings of 47 and 72 and three wickets for 35 in the second innings.
"You put him in a lot of different situations and he stands up to it. He's a born match-winner. He puts the team first and gives everything to the group of players he stands alongside."
It was not just the numbers that stacked up for Stokes. His second innings of 72 off 47 balls took the game away from South Africa, while his spell in the last hour ripped away the last of the home team's stubborn resistance. He took the last three wickets in the space of 14 balls with a spell of fast, hostile, short-pitched bowling.
But Root said he was delighted with the way the whole team played. "It was a very pleasing performance. I thought we played really well all week. It was a great game of five-day Test cricket. We built pressure at the right times, showed patience and had the character to keep believing going into that last session."
England still needed five wickets after tea. "We knew there would be partnerships but we never stopped believing," said Root.
"When the chances came we took them. We were excellent in the field. We took pretty much everything which came our way. We recognised those key moments that we probably got wrong in the first Test match. For a young group of players to learn that quickly was very satisfying."
England had an injury worry when James Anderson, who took seven wickets for 63 runs in the match, did not bowl between lunch and tea on the final day, then bowled only two overs after tea. Root said Anderson had a side injury. "He will have scans and treatment. We will have to wait and see. It could just be a little niggle."