Australian angle: Respectful celebrations show a united team in good hands

The Oval has staged a wonderful Test match and produced a worthy victor. Everyone has played their part. Afterwards, one camp was delirious and the other despondent but these emotions will pass.

Four years ago the fifth Test was thrilling but tarnished by an undercurrent of zealotry. Spectators were urged to join in renditions of patriotic songs, hysteria could be detected in local faces as bad light intervened early on Sunday afternoon. Certainly the cricket was unforgettable, especially the confrontation between Kevin Pietersen and Brett Lee. But victory ought to promote joy not ecstasy. England did not handle it well and thereafter suffered the consequences.

Now a far more hospitable atmosphere prevailed in the ground. Naturally, most observers wanted England to win. They cheered wickets and did their best to urge on their champions. Mostly, though, a large crowd basked in the sunshine and appreciated the cricket. At no stage did they forget themselves. The reception given to Ricky Ponting as he walked to the crease to begin his last Test innings in this country told the tale. He was accorded the sort of recognition reserved for great players making their final appearance.

Previously, Ponting had played his part by shaking hands with Andrew Flintoff when the Lancastrian began his last Test knock. Although not as iconic, it brought to mind Flintoff's own gesture in 2005 when he found time in the heady moment of victory to comfort Brett Lee. Ironically, Flintoff, otherwise muted, produced the brilliant intervention that undid Australia's best batsman.

Even the pitch behaved itself. Far from becoming treacherous it remained exacting. The struggle between bat and ball was compelling from the first ball to the last. Nothing has been more impressive in the series than the fortitude and skill shown by Ponting and Mike Hussey as they built their partnership. Both stunned the snorters with the utmost skill and pounced on anything wayward with such aplomb that England began to fret. Hussey remained unbeaten almost to the end in a masterly display that revived his career. Supposing Ponting had not been run out! Anything seemed possible.

But it was England's day and the Ashes belong to them. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower provided astute and calm leadership and the selectors comprehensively outplayed their counterparts. A week ago the hosts were in such dire straits that a recall for WG Grace appeared imminent. Instead, they plumped for Jonathon Trott and the newcomer responded with two impressive displays.

Despite the valiant performances of the senior Australians batsmen, England deserved to win. Strauss out-thought his rival. On the final day he kept Stephen Harmison fresh all morning and afterwards the speedster unleashed a hostile spell, Graeme Swann wheeled away gamely and Stuart Broad confirmed his emergence as a talented and resourceful all-rounder. Nor should Matt Prior's alert keeping be forgotten.

England's conduct in the moment of victory also told a tale. Naturally they celebrated but within a few seconds their thoughts turned to their duties whereupon they shook hands with umpires and opponents. Evidently the team is in good hands. It was no small thing to survive in Cardiff, no small thing to produce an effort of this sort straight after a potentially devastating loss, no small thing to remain respectful in triumph.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?