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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent at The Oval

The strength and resolve of Michael Vaughan's team was given its sternest test by a thoroughly determined Australia, and England prevailed to recapture the Ashes.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen is a remarkable batsman

Somehow, even when wickets were falling and the enormous crowd fell quiet, it always seemed the most likely outcome.

The Oval and, indeed, the whole country has been bracing itself for a massive celebration.

But Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath made England work for it and had it not been for the two lives given to Kevin Pietersen when he was on nought and 15, it might have been a different story.

Pietersen, as we have discovered, is a remarkable batsman.

He became the highest scoring player from either side in this series, and having survived a torrid spell from Brett Lee before lunch, he took on the fast bowler in the afternoon in an onslaught that swung the game.

Pietersen moved from 35 to 76 in just 15 balls as he hooked two sixes into the crowd and hard as Warne tried to frustrate him by bowling round the wicket, he showed that not only is he technically equipped for Test cricket, but that he is temperamentally sound as well.

Paul Collingwood's contribution of 10 will not look particularly significant in years to come, but the Durham all-rounder fully justified his selection.

At a time when Australia were really in the hunt, he held Warne at bay for more than an hour as 60 vital runs were added.

For all the debate about his call up, Collingwood received a rough first innings decision and had a catch dropped off his bowling.

England supporter
England's supporters have had a summer to savour

England will be relieved that they opted for his services, rather than the extra bowler.

By the time Pietersen reached 150, the celebrations had begun and we witnessed scenes that, at the start of this series, would have been dismissed as a pipedream.

For that, Duncan Fletcher and England's coaching staff deserve a great deal of credit. But most of the praise must go to the players who, after a debacle at Lord's, seized the chance offered by McGrath's injury and took the attack to a startled opposition.

Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones, Pietersen, Vaughan and Andrew Strauss made the most telling contributions, but this was a success founded on tremendous team spirit.

England fully deserved to win the Ashes, and they had to take on the best at their own game to do so.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: England captain Michael Vaughan


Interview: Kevin Pietersen



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