Twelve good men and true: why Team England were triumphant

England's march to Ashes glory was achieved by a dedicated group of highly individual characters who have become a formidable team. Angus Fraser celebrates the players who all contributed to cricket's most memorable summer and the defeat of the world champions

A number of former England captains have chased the position because of the kudos and money it offers them. This does not appear to be the case with Vaughan and it is why his team-mates love him. His laid-back style has allowed the England players to express themselves and his tactics were far more astute than those of Ricky Ponting, his opposite number.

Ray Illingworth, a former Ashes-winning England captain, felt Vaughan was too soft for the job, but he has shown a ruthless streak on several occasions since taking charge in 2003. Chris Read was dropped without any sign of sentiment 18 months ago.

The captaincy has affected the 30-year-old's form and we may never see him bat as he did between May 2002 and July 2003 when he scored eight Test centuries and was ranked as the world's No 1 batsman. But getting his hands on the Ashes has more than made up for this, and he seems destined to become one of England's greatest captains.

Magical moment: At 6.50pm on Monday,when he became the first England captain in 18 years to get his hands on the little urn.

MARCUS TRESCOTHICK

Trescothick was an overweight underachiever before Duncan Fletcher spotted him playing for Somerset. But under the guidance of the England coach he has become one of the best opening batsmen in the world. The 29-year-old is not one of the most charismatic figures in the dressing-room but is probably the most dedicated. Trescothick cannot leave cricket alone. His work ethic sets the perfect example to any youngster who breaks into the team and embarrasses the senior players into action. Trescothick's lack of foot movement has previously led to problems against Australia but he played their fast bowlers well during this series.

Magical moment: His 90 at Edgbaston. The left-hander drove Brett Lee through the covers on several occasions and smacked Shane Warne back over his head for six. It signalled England's intent and changed the course of the series.

ANDREW STRAUSS

Strauss's posh and privileged upbringing has made him the brunt of many cheap dressing-room jokes. But he takes the banter in his stride, and normally gives back as much as he gets. He loves gadgets, and several thousand of the £9.5 billion we waste on unused bread makers and portable DVD players can be found at his home in Ealing. Strauss is good at any sport he plays. He has a single-figure handicap in golf and thinks he is Greg Rusedski when he has a tennis racket in his hand. But he also works hard at his game and is keen to learn. If he was not playing for England he would probably be earning a fortune in the City by now.

Magical moment: His hundred at the Oval. England desperately needed someone to ensure they posted a significant score, and Strauss did just that with a chanceless 129.

IAN BELL

At 23 Bell is the baby of the England side. He has represented England at every age level and was tipped for an outstanding Test career while in his teens. He is a well-organised player with a good temperament. He is strong off his legs and is not afraid to use his feet to the spinners. His style of batting brings back memories of Michael Atherton, but he has a few more shots. After filling his boots against Bangladesh in May he found life tougher against Shane Warne and co, but he remains a class player with a bright future.

Magical moment: Hitting Glenn McGrath back over his head in his second-innings score of 65 at Old Trafford. A beautiful shot.

KEVIN PIETERSEN

The South African-born batsman adores the limelight. It is why his best mates in cricket are Shane Warne and Darren Gough, neither of whom tends to shy away from a camera. He has tattoos on his arms, bling in his ears and wears a mop of hair which resembles a skunk. His arrival in the England side has made life easier for those players who prefer a quiet existence. KP will do all the interviews and give the media all the quotes they want. His effervescent character has made him a popular and influential member of the team. At times his belligerent approach to batting borders on arrogant but while he is scoring runs nobody will care.

Magical moment: His 158 on Monday saved the Ashes from returning Down Under and highlighted what a class act he is.

ANDREW FLINTOFF

"Freddie" possesses everything you want in a player and he has been the inspiration behind England's success. But forget the sixes, the wickets and the catches at slip: it is the nature of the man that makes him so special. There is not a selfish bone in his body, and there is nothing he would not do for a team-mate.

His life will never be the same but it is to be hoped that he gets better advice than Ian Botham, the man whose mantle he now has. Flintoff will find he has many new friends but he needs to pick them wisely if he is to stay among the Warnes, Laras and Tendulkars. Hopefully he will.

Magical moment: When England won by two runs in the second Test at Edgbaston Flintoff went to console Brett Lee before celebrating with his team. That's sportsmanship.

GERAINT JONES

It is hard not to feel sorry for England's wicketkeeper. Jones's glovework receives a lot of criticism, and it does need to improve, yet he remains one of the most charming young men you could wish to meet. By nature he is shy, and he prefers to let others grab the headlines. Jones works hard at his game and he is a reliable professional. It is these characteristics that the coach Duncan Fletcher loves, along with his ability to score valuable runs at No 7.

Magical moment: His 85 at Trent Bridge. Jones's 177-run partnership with Flintoff allowed England to reach 477 in their first innings, a total that allowed them to control and win the fourth Test.

ASHLEY GILES

It was feared Giles may finish the summer in a padded cell after his reaction to criticism at the end of the first Test. England's spinner is quite a sensitive soul, and being the oldest member of the side he feels it is his job to defend them when they are being unfairly attacked. This fatherly approach makes him a popular and highly respected figure in English cricket. Giles answered his critics by putting in strong displays during the last four Tests. He did not take many wickets but he made it hard for Australia to score freely against him, thus fulfilling his role in the side. He also scored useful runs batting at No 8.

Magical moment: When he was at his most vulnerable, and with Australia's batsmen gunning for him, Giles bowled beautifully in the first innings at Edgbaston.

MATTHEW HOGGARD

Every side needs a Hoggard. A strong, honest, hard-working soul who quietly gets on with his job, and gives you everything he has got whenever he walks out on to a cricket field. Hoggard is the most unfashionable of England's fast bowlers but he performs in conditions that assist his style of bowling.

His dogged batting and the way in which he puts his body on the line sums up his commitment to the team. Several members of this England side will be found appearing on chat shows during the next couple of months. You will have to go walking on the Yorkshire moors to find Hoggard.

Magical moment: Driving Brett Lee through extra cover for four at Trent Bridge when England needed eight to win. He has never before, and will probably never again, play a shot of such quality or importance.

STEPHEN HARMISON

If you met him at his home in Ashington, Northumberland, you would never know that Harmison is one of the most feared fast bowlers in the world. He is a quiet, shy lad who enjoys living a simple life. He gets homesick and he would much rather watch Newcastle United every other weekend than be paid well to travel around Australia, staying in five-star hotels.

Like a lot of fast bowlers he can be stubborn and there are times when he will do what is right for him and his family, not the team. Harmison asks "why" and not "how high" when someone in authority shouts "jump".

But he can bowl. In 2004 he was the best bowler in the world, and although his figures during the Ashes were acceptable, he is capable of more.

Magical moment: At Edgbaston Australia needed two runs to win the second Test when a Harmison bouncer flicked the glove of Michael Kasprowicz and carried to the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones. If the ball had missed the glove, or gone for four, the Ashes would still be in Australia.

SIMON JONES

Jones was the surprise package of this Ashes campaign. Australia's batsmen did not enjoy facing his hostile swing bowling. The 26-year-old Welshman is a softly spoken, good-looking lad who will remain popular with the girls, especially if he keeps posing with next to nothing on. In the dressing-room he is bashful, but once he has a cricket ball in his hand he becomes a menace. His fine bowling meant there was no respite for Australia's batsmen and it is no coincidence that England struggled to bowl them out when he was absent with a foot injury.

Magical moment: When Jones ripped Michael Clarke's off stump out of the ground at Old Trafford with an inswinger. Clarke left it and he looked foolish.

PAUL COLLINGWOOD

England's utility player bats, fields and bowls, and he is a top team man who occasionally caddies for Michael Vaughan when he is invited to play in a flash golf tournament. He rarely moans about his lot and gets on with giving something to the team. These attributes have gained him selection on England's past three winter tours.

Yet behind the gentle smile is a fierce competitor and an ambitious cricketer. It was Collingwood who confronted Matthew Hayden during the one-dayers when he reacted badly to being hit by a wild Simon Jones throw. Collingwood is a regular in England's one-day side but he has played in only three Tests.

Magical moment: Collingwood batted for 71 minutes during England's second innings at the Oval. He scored only 10 but the 60 runs he and Kevin Pietersen put on were crucial.

England's Test schedule

2005-06 Nov

AWAY v Pakistan

Three-Test series

2005-06 Feb

AWAY v India

To be confirmed

2006 May

HOME v Sri Lanka

To be confirmed

2006 July

HOME v Pakistan

To be confirmed

2006/07 Dec-Jan

AWAY v Australia

To be confirmed

ICC World Rankings

1 Australia 127pts

2 England 119

3 India 111

4 South Africa 100

5 New Zealand 100

6 Sri Lanka 98

7 Pakistan 95

8 West Indies 74

9 Zimbabwe 28

10 Bangladesh 6

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