Strauss savours ‘amazing’ Ashes win

Victory by 197 runs at the Oval on Sunday saw England win the fifth and final Test with more than a day to spare – and so regain the Ashes 2-1.


But such a result looked a long way off earlier this month when Australia, who came into this series as Ashes holders, drew level with a crushing innings and 80-run fourth Test win at Headingley.

“This is pretty special,” said Strauss, a member of the England side that won the 2005 Ashes.

“There were so many emotions we went through today – hope, frustration, worry and despair, at time.

“To come through and finish it off, until you get over the line you don’t realise how hard it is.

“It’s an amazing day, it seemed a long away off after Headingley to be honest. The guys had to dig very deep.”

Key wicket for Flintoff

Australia dominated the series statistically – for example their batsmen scored eight hundreds to England’s two.

But Strauss’s men were able to raise their game when they most needed in a series where for three Tests they were the without star batsman – and former captain – Kevin Pietersen.

“When we were bad, we were very bad, when we were good, we managed to be good enough,” Strauss, England’s best batsman this series, said.

“In a five-Test series, there are ebbs and flows.”

That was certainly the case at the Oval where all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who had a largely quiet match in his final Test before injury-induced retirement, made a telling blow with Australia, chasing a mammoth 546 to win, well-placed at 217 for two.

But with Australia captain Ricky Ponting looking in supreme form, Flintoff ran out the star batsman with a direct hit from mid-on.

Moment of inspiration

“We needed that moment of inspiration,” said Strauss. “You can’t keep Fred out of the game.”

Flintoff himself said: “All the injuries and operations, it’s for moments like this,” he said. “What a way to go.”

For Strauss, who jokingly said there would be “muted celebrations”, this series was a personal triumph.

Thrust into the captaincy following the fall-out from Pietersen’s resignation in January, Strauss was in charge of the England side bowled out for just 51 by the West Indies in Jamaica a month later.

“It feels pretty special to be here now, seems more than seven months ago since I took over,” said Strauss, who in this Ashes series top scored for England with 474 runs at 52.66, including 161 in the 115-run second Test win at Lord’s.

England’s form fell away badly after their 2005 Ashes success and Strauss was determined this side would not let things slip.

“Any time you win an Ashes series is unbelievably special.

Double defeat for Ponting

“This is a young side, it can get a lot better. We’re inconsistent as we’ve shown this series, but the way Stuart Broad (man-of-the-match at the Oval for his first innings five for 37) to come back after the first two Tests says a lot about his character.”

For Ponting, defeat meant he became the first Australia captain in 119 years to lose two Ashes series in England.

Asked how it had happened, he said: “When we’ve lost a session, it was like the one the other day, we lose eight wickets (in the first innings at the Oval) and blow ourselves out of the water.

“That happened on a couple of occasions, not being able to get the final wicket in Cardiff (where England held out for a first Test draw) and our first innings batting at Lord’s and here.”

But he insisted this loss hadn’t dented his faith in his ability as a captain.

“I’m more determined than ever to be a better player and leader than I am at the moment.

“Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, to get the best out of the guys and to win the series. I felt I ticked most of those boxes, other than making a few more runs myself.”