£6 a pint for Barmy Army - but who's worrying?

England cricket supporters have been severely hit in the pocket following their team around Australia - not that they were caring about that after wrapping up the historic series victory in Sydney.

Captain Andrew Strauss' team inflicted a crushing innings and 83 runs defeat on the hosts in the fifth and final test in Sydney, to seal a historic 3-1 triumph.

The tourists' first series win Down Under since 1987 sparked wild scenes of jubilation among the players and the 10,000 Barmy Army supporters, who took to the streets of the city for a mammoth celebration.

Some fans told how they had spent £12,000 or more travelling across the world to follow every day's action in the five-match contest.

They have been hit by the strength of the Australian economy, which has been boosted by solid growth in China driving demand for commodities.

Paul Burnham, co-founder of the Barmy Army, said: "It's become a very expensive place. It's about 1.5 Australian dollars to the pound and it used to be three dollars. Barbados used to be the most expensive place we would go but it's here now. Anyone here for six weeks could easily be spending £2,000 a week - but no-one is thinking about the money on a day like this."

Mr Burnham, 46, from Sunbury-on-Thames, said hotels had been typically costing at least £100 a night.

"Breakfast in an ordinary place on the street can cost you 30 dollars, while it's more like 40 dollars in a hotel, and you'll pay £5 or £6 for a pint of beer. I'm in a taxi now and it's 20 dollars already for a journey I could possibly have walked, but we're going to have a two-day party all over Sydney to mark the biggest day for the country since England won the rugby world cup in Australia in 2003."

Among a host of new recruits for the Barmy Army in Australia was the 682nd Lord Mayor of London Nick Anstee.

Mr Anstee, an investment banker who stood down from his role last year, went as far as penning a song for the fans to sing.

"I'm not sure whether they will use it," he said, after cheering the side to victory. "I wanted to return the favour to the Barmy Army as they welcomed me in to the fold."

Keith Tovey, 68, a retired fleet manager from Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, told how he had spent his life savings watching every day's play.

He said: "So much of this series has been like a home match. For so many of us this has been a dream. To see it end so well for us makes it all worthwhile."

Ian Sanderson, a 26-year-old sales manager from Highgate in north London, travelled to Australia to watch the Melbourne and Sydney Test matches.He spent around £3,000 to watch the Ashes victory Down Under, but said it was worth every penny.

He added: "To be there to see England win the Ashes for the first time in 24 years was incredible. We smashed them. We absolutely dominated them. My highlights were bowling them out for 98 runs in the Boxing Day Test, and Mitchell Johnson getting bowled for a Golden Duck today."

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the "whole country is incredibly proud" of the England cricket team.

He said: "I've spoken to Andrew Strauss this morning and congratulated the team, coaches and everyone behind the side on this tremendous victory. Retaining the Ashes was a fantastic achievement, but winning the series really is the icing on the cake.

"We've seen some great sporting moments over the series and the team have provided us with some brilliant memories that I'm sure fans will talk about for years to come."

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: "Congratulations to the England Cricket Team and everyone at the ECB for winning the Ashes in such style in Sydney this morning. It caps a terrific year for English Cricket following on from the T20 World Cup triumph and has given the whole country the most incredible lift. We're all very proud of them."

Paul Burnham, founder of the Barmy Army travelling support, said the party would probably go on for 72 hours.

He said: "It's going to be massive. There is the Barmy Army, and all the expats living here. "We are heading into the weekend, so I am sure this will go on for two or three days. The win is a massive thing to achieve - the way it was done, and it's been 24 years since the last."

England dealt a humiliating third innings defeat to the Australian team during the tour - and also became the first ever team to win three Tests by an innings in a single series away from home.

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