The Ashes are won! But did England teach the Aussies how to party?
Even without Flintoff, players (and Barmy Army) hit Sydney for six
Saturday 08 January 2011
When the victory laps and official presentations were over, and long after the jubilant Barmy Army fans had left Sydney Cricket Ground to start a 24-hour street party, England's triumphant cricket team walked out into the centre of the pitch, sat down in a circle and shared a single cigar.
It was a typically intimate celebration by this tight-knit group of players. Not that it stopped England teaching Australians a thing or two about partying as players and fans alike danced the night away together at a nightclub in downtown Sydney. It wasn't quite the kind of debauchery favoured by the likes of Jeff Thompson or David Boon – who supposedly still holds the record for the most tinnies drunk on a flight from Australia to England. But it was a party few will escape from without a sore head.
For any locals caught in the vicinity, it was impossible to miss the hordes of red and white celebrants chanting the kind of songs that would set an Australian Republican's teeth on edge (a perennial favourite of the Barmy Army, sung to the sound of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine goes: "You're next Queen is Camilla Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles").
Compared with previous Ashes celebrations, however, yesterday's was a muted affair. The last time England seized the tiny urn Down Under, just shy of a quarter of a century ago, the victory party was legendary. Elton John threw the team a celebratory bash in Melbourne and ended up being dragged into a Jacuzzi with Ian Botham and Allan Lamb.
England's 2005 victory was followed with a similarly liquid celebration. The images of a worse-for-wear Andrew Flintoff struggling to keep his breakfast down during the open-top bus parade and Downing Street reception the following day were almost as unforgettable as the winning wicket.
But England 2010/11 is a very different beast. Flintoff is no longer in the side and Kevin Pietersen is grown up with a new baby. For Jimmy Anderson, whose swing notched up 24 Aussie wickets, there was only one thing on his mind when the Ashes came to an end – his bed. With the victory celebrations and 213.1 overs behind him he went back to the England hotel to take a nap.
Yesterday's victory was, of course, a foregone conclusion. But the celebrations only kicked off in full at 11.56am when Chris Tremlett bowled Michael Beer for the final Australian wicket accompanied by the prophetic sound of Barmy Army bugler Billy Cooper playing the Last Post. The 15,000 England supporters erupted into roars of excitement as they celebrated England becoming the first touring team to record three innings victories in a series over Australia.
After a pile-up on the pitch, the England team moved to their dressing room where they toasted their success with champagne and bottles of beer before returning for the official presentation and numerous laps of honour. By the time the team sat down for the communal cigar-smoking ceremony many hours later, the photographers, TV crews and fans had hit downtown Sydney with a vengeance.
Victor Flowers, the 59-year-old de facto general of the Barmy Army, known as Jimmy Savile to his friends, summed up the festive mood. "The Barmy Army has been there and watched England suffer for years," he said. "This victory is just what we deserve. We are going to make the very most of it."
Michael Vaughan, Former England Ashes-winning captain
Just leaving the ground. beers on the outfield, its hacking down. Tonight's gonna be a good night!!
Steve Finn, England bowler
No better feeling in cricket.....! Outstanding England!!!
Kevin Pietersen, England batsman
The barmy army were amazing as always! They are brilliant!
Andrew Flintoff, Ex-England all-rounder
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