Joe Root hailed a "phenomenal" summer and declared England's victory at the Oval as the blueprint for their future test cricket as they signed off with an important win over Australia.
England bid farewell to coach Trevor Bayliss with a 135-run victory that ensured he remained unbeaten in home test series over his four-year tenure but planning for the future will begin quickly this week.
A total of 22 new central contracts will be announced this weekend (11 for test, 11 for one-day cricket), then next week the squad for the New Zealand tour will be announced and Ashley Giles will step up his search for Bayliss' replacement.
Root reiterated he wants to stay on as test captain and lead England in Australia in 2021-22, and believes that in Jofra Archer and Rory Burns, England have unearthed two players to add to their central core of senior figures in the team.
Joe Denly will be handed a central contract this week after his 94 in the second innings at the Oval, his third fifty in three tests. Burns will receive his first central contract, and Jack Leach will be in line for a deal, too.
Archer and Stuart Broad will have to lead the attack again in New Zealand, with England privately admitting they do not expect their leading wicket-taker, James Anderson, to be fit for the tour.
Instead they hope he will be fully recovered from his calf strain in time for the South Africa series in December which counts towards the Test Championship, unlike the tests in New Zealand.
Sam Curran has leapfrogged Chris Woakes as the back-up all-rounder behind Ben Stokes after a good performance at the Oval and there will be New Zealand call-ups for two out of Ollie Pope, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley. Pope is certain to go, leaving Sibley and Crawley a week to battle it out in county cricket for a place as reserve opener or potential No 3, which would allow Root to revert to his favourite position at four.
All that is for the future. For Root, this win was a massive boost to his captaincy. Losing 3-1 would have been a crushing way to end the summer but instead a drawn series, achieved without Anderson, solidifies his position as captain.
Having set Australia 399 for victory, England bowled out Australia for 263. Steve Smith's incredible series ended — finally — without him scoring a fifty, caught off Broad at leg gully for 23, with Matthew Wade the only Australian to pass 25, making 117 in the losing effort.
Broad took 4-62, Leach 4-49, and Root chipped in with two wickets to complete a performance that was pleasing for the England skipper.
"I thought the performance this week was a lot closer to what we want in test cricket. We drove the game the whole time from that first session on day one. We got ourselves in a position of strength and at no point did we let them back in.
"We now look like we are starting to get to grips with test cricket after a long period of one-day cricket. We have an opportunity in the next two-and-a-half years to push and do everything we can to prepare for that tour to Australia.
"That is going to be a huge focus for me and English cricket. I am planning to still be here. I am desperate to take this team forward. I'm in a very fortunate position to be captain of the test team.
"I will do everything I can to get us prepared for going down there [Australia] and doing something very special. This is more of a blueprint about how we want to go about playing. We can get better and there are areas we want to strengthen and improve on but the guys have stepped up under pressure and that is really pleasing."