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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Ashes media watch
The back page of Tuesday's Mirror newspaper
Cricket remains flavour of the month after England's dramatic near-miss in the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

The sport again dominates Tuesday's newspaper headlines, confirming its current pre-eminence in the nation's affections despite the start of the new football season.

After "the best Test match ever?" at Edgbaston, the latest spectacular is being labelled "The Ultimate Test" amid "The Greatest Ashes Series In History".

The mood fluctuates between the agony of England's failure to win, the heroic defiance of Australia and praise for the quality and drama of the contest as a whole.

The end came too late for most Australian papers, where the inquests had already started based on the likelihood of defeat, before Ricky Ponting's admirable "captain's knock".


The Mirror
"Fred Up!" is the headline on the back page, with pictures of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff doing a spectacular flip after dismissing Shane Warne.

The all-rounder warns that England's efforts at Old Trafford will count for nothing if they don't maintain the same form and go on to win the Ashes.

Rather than lament the failure to seal what would have been a famous victory, Ian Botham says we should "just celebrate another magnificent game of cricket".

And chief sports writer Oliver Holt waxes lyrical about "the rebirth of our summer game as a popular passion just when it had begun to seem it would forever be football's submissive partner".

The Sun
Using the same picture of Flintoff's athletic celebration of Warne's dismisal, the paper's headline is "Flippin' Hell".

Inside, the combination of England's ill fortune and the defiance of Australia captain Ricky Ponting is combined in another headline - "Rick As A Parrott".

But the paper, already calling it 'The Greatest Ashes Series in History', is happy to embrace the mood of awe and wonder at Monday's events.

"As Alex Ferguson, king of the other Old Trafford, might have said: Cricket... bloody hell!" quips columnist Steven Howard.

Daily Mail
"It's agony," declares the paper, the same headline it used after England's last-ditch win in the second Test.

As elsewhere, Chris Foy ruminates on "cricket's rebirth as a sport of the masses", while former captain Nasser Hussain calls every member of the England team "heroes, absolute heroes."

"People may analyse the 'ifs and buts' and wonder what might have been but the bottom line is that this was another remarkable performance," he writes.

Daily Express

The back pages of Tuesday's newspapers
The paper's headline, "So Close", says it all.

Inside, Henry Blofeld lauds the "extraordinary surge of confidence" since England's first Test defeat at Lord's.

After the two-run victory at Edgbaston, "they came to Old Trafford realising they could win and knowing the Aussies were nothing more than cricketing mortals", Blofeld writes.

"England must and can go on from here because they have the measure of the Australians," he concludes.

The Guardian
A picture on the front page shows a glum-looking Kevin Pietersen and Simon Jones, under the headline: "Hopes turn to Ashes"

"For sustained drama, there might never have beeen a series like it," writes Lawrence Booth.

And despite a picture on the back page of a despairing Stephen Harmison, on his knees and head bowed, the headline - "Ponting's heroics leave all to play for" - is a reminder that there are still two matches left in this series.

Daily Telegraph
Former England all-rounder Derek Pringle spells out his admiration for Ricky Ponting's match-saving innings.

"There are some forces in the universe so immutable that it takes something extraordinary to change them," he writes. "Chief among them is the one that impels Australian captains not to lose the Ashes."

Geoff Boycott is upbeat about England's prospects for the rest of the series. "We must not get downbeat," he warns. "Since the first Test at Lord's the momentum has turned full circle... Australia are the ones with issues to address."

The Times
"Coulda, shoulda, still might..." is the paper's verdict on its front page as to how close England came to victory and what it means for their Ashes chances.

Chief sports writer Simon Barnes borrows the words of Sir Alf Ramsey to his England players before extra-time in the 1966 World Cup final, as an offering to Michael Vaughan's team.

"You've won it once. Now go out there and win it again," he advises them.

Accompanied by two pictures illustrating England's fortunes - one of Andrew Flintoff celebrating a wicket, another of Steve Harmison holding his head in his hands - the back-page headline sums it up: "So near... and yet so far"

Inside, James Lawton is suitably enthused by what he saw at Old Trafford on Monday.

"There may never be a day like this again as long as Ashes cricket is played," he writes.


Sydney Morning Herald
"Time and tide with England" is how the paper saw it at tea on the final day.

It is preoccupied with Matthew Hayden's poor form and the increasing influence of Andrew Flintoff - "the burly Lancastrian who is coming to define the Ashes series".

"Hayden was downcast because he lost an engrossing battle with a wonderful cricketer at the top of his game," it says.

Brisbane Courier-Mail
Queensland's largest newspaper also believed Australia "faced an uphill battle to save the third Ashes Test as bold England pressed for a series lead".

Having written off the Australians' own chance of victory, it felt they were "swimming against a king tide of pressure after lunch on day five".

The Australian
Former captain Kim Hughes believes Australia's problems could continue given their lack of match practice against top-quality bowling attacks.

"Once you get to 32 or 33, the only time you're exposed is against pace," Hughes says, alluding to an ageing side with only three players under 30.

"Our blokes could go back and play the rest of the Test countries over the next two or three years and still average 55, and they'd do that standing on their head, because there is no other decent attack.

"England have exposed a lack of footwork and technique. The rest of the series will be a real test for them."

Sydney Daily Telegraph
The paper's early headline after the final result emerged - "Tough game ends in a draw" - doesn't quite do justice to the drama of the situation.

"Not often does a draw please both sides, but then this was no ordinary draw" it states, although whether that statement accurately sums up England's mood is debatable.

The Age
"It is still 1-1" declares the Melbourne newspaper, praising Ricky Ponting's "superb captain's innings that kept Australia in the game and in The Ashes".

"A magnificent 156 from Ponting, combined with a stoic batting effort from Shane Warne and a nerveless finish from Lee, saved the Test for Australia."

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