Saturday, January 8, 2011

England : We can rule the world!

We can rule the world! Aussie-crushing England celebrate in style... now they are on a new mission.

Andrew Strauss yesterday vowed the best is yet to come from England’s Ashes heroes as he savoured ‘one of the most special moments of my career’.

Strauss led England to their first Ashes series success in Australia for 24 years and became only the third post-war England captain to win the urn home and away when his triumphant side galloped to a third innings victory of the series here at the SCG.

Then, as Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and the rest of England’s heroes uncorked the champagne, Strauss promised this outstanding 3-1 series triumph, the first since Mike Gatting’s team won in Australia in 1986-87, was a stepping stone towards England’s ultimate target — being the top side in world cricket.


‘The majority of this team should be hitting their peak in the next couple of years and that’s encouraging,’ said Strauss, who saw England close within two points of second-placed South Africa in the ICC Test rankings.

‘We have to think about how we can improve and hopefully one or two new guys will be sticking their hands up and saying, “I can add something to the team”.’

Bubbling over: Kevin Pietersen kisses the replica urn as the victory champagne flows for England

Bubbling over: Kevin Pietersen kisses the replica urn as the victory champagne flows for England
 
 The England captain paid tribute to team director Andy Flower, the main architect behind two Ashes victories and a World Twenty20 triumph in two years at the helm of a side he inherited in a state of disarray.

‘He has been immense,’ said Strauss. ‘Andy is a guy we all respect, not only for what he’s achieved but the way he handles himself in the dressing room.’
 
Sprinkling of magic: Graeme Swann celebrates in the dressing room by doing the now famous 'sprinkler' dance, while Cook and James Anderson look on

Sprinkling of magic: Graeme Swann celebrates in the dressing room by doing the now famous 'sprinkler' dance, while Cook and James Anderson look on 

Strauss believes the successes in Melbourne and Sydney rank as highly as any England victories in which he has been involved.

‘It feels pretty special,’ continued Strauss. ‘We wanted to finish the series on a high. It’s a dressing room full of pride — and probably quite a bit of alcohol, too!

‘We have proved it is possible for an England side to win out here. You don’t need a mystery spinner or a guy who bowls at 95mph. You just need a lot of guys performing well and consistently.’


Moment of glory: England finally get their hands on the Ashes after a long but remarkably successful tour
Moment of glory: England finally get their hands on the Ashes after a long but remarkably successful tour

An exhausted Jimmy Anderson finished the series with 24 wickets, the best haul by an England bowler in Australia for 40 years, and promptly fell asleep in the dressing room.

‘It’s not exactly rock and roll,’ he said later. ‘But I’ve not been that well this week. It has been a long seven weeks and with me going home for the birth of my daughter (between the third and fourth Tests), it has been a really emotional time.’

Taunted in advance by Australians who remembered his struggles with the Kookaburra ball four years earlier, Anderson added: ‘There were no doubts in my mind that I could perform. I’m delighted with the way it has worked out.’
Mobbed: Photographers snap the England team as the Barmy Army rejoice behind
 
Mobbed: Photographers snap the England team as the Barmy Army rejoice behind

Flower was absent from the main celebrations as England did a lap of honour at the SCG after wrapping up their victory by an innings and 83 runs.

Strauss said of Flower: ‘He prefers to lurk in the shadows. He’s not good at smiling, for starters! Andy is not doing this job for accolades, he is doing it because he desperately wants England to improve so that when he does finish he can look back and say, “I was part of something special”.’



Dream team: Captain Strauss and England team director Andy Flower have combined magnificently to retain the Ashes Down Under
Dream team: Captain Strauss and England team director Andy Flower have combined magnificently to retain the Ashes Down Under 

And the captain had a final word for Paul Collingwood, who has bowed out of Test cricket.

‘Colly has been one of the great servants of English cricket,’ said Strauss. ‘He epitomises everything this England side is about.’
What a way to go: Retiring batsman Paul Collingwood reflects on a job - and career- well done

 What a way to go: Retiring batsman Paul Collingwood reflects on a job - and career- well done

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