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English expats relish Ashes bragging rights
by AFP


Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Event:Australia in British Isles 2005

DateLine: 8th September 2005

 

It's not a good time to be an Aussie in Australia after the humbling experience of losing cricket's Ashes to England.

 

Long-tormented British expats here revelled in Michael Vaughan's 2-1 series triumph at The Oval to reclaim the little urn nearly two decades after losing them to the "Colonials."

 

The news, which came as a hammer blow in the early hours of Tuesday here, left a sports-mad nation in a pall of despair, but begrudgingly accepting that England were the better team over the course of the five Tests.

 

Sydney's chapter of the "Barmy Army" announced plans to rub in England's Ashes victory from a red double-decker bus.

 

Organiser Craig Gill, who has lived here for 18 years, has booked a 73-seat bus to ram home England's triumph into despondent Australian cricket fans this weekend.

 

Gill said more than 250 people had emailed him upon news of England's series win, hoping to score a seat on the bus, which will take its passengers from pub to pub across Sydney.

 

"It's been 18 years in the making. I've had to live with nothing but the stigma we get from losing the games," Gill told the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

"Kings of rugby. Kings of cricket. Queen rules your country. That's it. You can't get better than that," he said.

 

Ouch!

 

One ex-pat, who ritually handed over 100 dollars (77 US dollars) in a standing Ashes bet every two years with an Australian friend, told Tuesday of his joy of finally winning something back.

 

"For 14 long years -- ever since I arrived in this country from my native Yorkshire -- he has collected on our wager," journalist Nick Galvin recounted in the paper.

 

"He tells me, and the long-suffering bloke who does his books, that it's the only income on which he can unquestionably depend. It's as close as he comes to budgeting.

 

"Now I find myself in the astonishing and not a little unsettling position of us having regained the Ashes. It's been so long in the wilderness I'm not sure how to react."

 

Australians have expected to hold on to the Ashes as a rite of passage against their traditional cricket rivals.

 

But that all ended on Monday as Kevin Pietersen clouted Australia's bowlers in a belligerent knock of 158 to ensure England drew the fifth Test and won the series.

 

Long-suffering England supporters couldn't wait to email their counterparts and crow about their team's conquering of the once-mighty Aussies.

 

One blogger proclaimed: "I'm not gloating. No, I'm not. Not me ... but what a great game of cricket. The Ashes are where they should be and all is right with the world.

 

"Sorry Aus, who am I kidding ... gloat, gloat, gloat."

 

Australian captain Ricky Ponting meanwhile arrives home this week to face the music.

 

Ponting was lashed in the Australian media, accused of indecisive leadership as well as puzzling tactics and field placements.

 

But he will be mainly remembered for what has been called a monumental blunder in sending England to bat after winning the toss in the second Edgbaston Test, just 30 minutes after losing star fast bowler Glenn McGrath to an ankle injury in the warm-up.

 

It was all downhill from there, with the struggling Aussies continually on the back foot and chasing the series against the rejuvenated Englishmen.

 

Ponting did get a show of support from Australian fans with a newspaper poll asking whether he should remain captain.

 

It found that 60 percent thought Ponting should be given another go, while 39 percent said he should be sacked.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)



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