Huge crowds pay tribute to Ashes heroes

Cheering crowds packed streets throughout the city to hail captain Michael Vaughan and his team as they toured in an open-topped bus.

The victory route from east London to Trafalgar Square was choked with ecstatic supporters - many of whom had abandoned work for the day - as a nation starved of sporting success finally lauded a team of world beaters.

Fans' favourite Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, who was named man of the series, was greeted with special adulation as he appeared on the double decker looking worse for wear after a night of celebration. With him on the bus was his glamorous wife Rachael and their daughter, Holly.

Vaughan, tired after a long night toasting the team's success, held aloft a replica of the famous Ashes urn between finger and thumb while his team-mates slugged glasses of champagne and waved to the adoring crowds.

His voice still hoarse, Vaughan said: "It's great for the country and great that we have made so many people happy.

"It's been a privilege to captain 10 and 11 players who have worked so hard."

The captain told Sky News: "To see a turn-out like this for cricket shows what this summer has been all about.

"We have been trying to win back the Ashes for a very long time and this team has managed to do it through a lot of hard work and a lot of talent."

Some onlookers estimated 100,000 fans had crammed into Trafalgar Square - scores clambering into the fountains to secure a place.

The crowd broke into wild chants and screams as the team arrived, evoking memories of the rapturous receptions given to the England's 1966 World Cup Winners and 2003 Rugby World Cup victors.

As the players were presented to the vast crowd, Vaughan said: "This is incredible."

Flintoff, shielding his eyes with shades and looking happily dishevelled, said: "It's been a great series."

The all-rounder then admitted: "To be honest with you I'm struggling, I've not been to bed yet and the eyes behind these glasses tell a thousand stories.

"It's been a marathon for the last five weeks, a mammoth series and an emotional roller-coaster we've been through. We've come out on top and we're enjoying it."

Spin bowler Ashley Giles said: "We've seen the rugby boys do this and the footballers, now it's our turn and we deserve it."

Dressed in identical dark blue suits and striped ties, the players were accompanied by their wives, partners and children on their parade.

Vice captain Marcus Trescothick refused to bask in the adulation, revealing the determination which has driven the team to success.

He said: "We have to work very hard now or things will come crashing down next time we go out."

Asked if England could claim to be the best side in the world, he added: "I wouldn't say that right now. There are some good teams out there, we just have to keep working hard."

Vaughan became the first Englishman to hold aloft the 4in high terracotta urn in 18 years after his side's 2-1 series win over their fiercest rivals.

It was sealed with a draw yesterday, after a fittingly dramatic day - which saw individual brilliance from batsman Kevin Pietersen.

With a skunk-like peroxide streak through his dark hair, the player dazzled with the bat yesterday - smashing 158 crucial runs and a record seven sixes in an innings - and with his ears adorned with £50,000 jewels fashioned in the shape of cricket balls.

On the double-decker parade bus, he said: "I think the boys have just got to celebrate this today. It's been a long time since we've had the Ashes and it's hats off to everyone who was involved."

The Queen hailed the team's "magnificent achievement" and Prime Minister Tony Blair told the players they "lit up the whole summer".

Engineer Simon Carlyon, 30, had travelled from Colchester in Essex to welcome the team in Trafalgar Square.

He said: "Unlike the footballers, they showed real heart - more spirit than anyone. They played for England and not for the money."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent